Seth Metzger, 39
Senior vice president of electrification, Dana Inc.
Big break: Realizing a passion for getting his hands on the greasy bits of cars, and having the luck to work for the right managers on the right products at the right time
There was no template for Seth Metzger’s assignment at Dana Inc. to develop an electrification strategy for the Tier 1 supplier of axles and driveline components.
That’s because no one knows what the market demand for electrified vehicles will be, and because the drivetrains of Dana’s customers might be electrified in many ways.
But Metzger found that helping to develop a product portfolio that determines where Dana will compete with electrified axles and other components for full-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids was the most fun work project he’s had of late.
“Markets have not developed where we are focusing our efforts on electrification,” he said. “Because there aren’t trends yet, you have the freedom to do some real innovation and creative development. That, to me, is why this is really the most exciting time to be in automotive.”
Part of Dana’s electrification plan covers work vehicles, such as trucks and delivery vans, and high-performance sports cars, said Metzger, who joined Dana in 2003 as a co-op student. He won his first promotion — leading a product engineering group — at age 26.
“I see it as an awesome, creative environment,” he said. “We have the freedom to make the market.”
Parts of Dana’s electrification strategy include developing a team of engineers who work in mechatronics — engineering both mechanical and electrical systems. Dana now has a mechatronics lab with special dynamometers for e-drive systems.
Because there are so many variations of electrification, it freed the imaginations of engineers on Metzger’s team.
“The lack of standardization is part of the excitement. Architectures are still being developed and invented,” he said.
When Metzger is not at work, he can be found wrenching one of his modified classic Jeep Wranglers. All of his classic off-road vehicles have Dana axles, prop shafts and other parts.
While he loves kicking up mud in his gasoline-powered Jeeps, Metzger believes electrified powertrains in trucks and off-road vehicles will find their place in the market.
“I’m excited by the changes happening right now in the industry,” he said. “Those are all opportunities giving us new ways to do things.”
— Richard Truett