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Dana wants to build complete chassis in N. America again

Dana Corp. wants to build more car and truck sections, such as the complete chassis it supplied to DaimlerChrysler AG in Brazil, but the Toledo firm's top executive declined to say yesterday whether it is discussing such a project for Toledo Jeep Assembly.

Bill Carroll, Dana's acting president and chief operating officer, said all he knows is what he has read about Chrysler's $2.1 billion plan to double to four the number of vehicles built at Toledo Jeep while having suppliers do more work. He also declined to discuss whether Dana was negotiating with Chrysler to be part of a similar supplier-focused venture in Windsor put on hold last year.

During a speech yesterday to the Rotary Club of Toledo, Mr. Carroll indicated he favored building a complete chassis in North America as Dana once did for the Dodge Dakota in Brazil.

“I think that would be a really interesting concept if we can do that again here in North America,” he told about 250 people at the meeting at the Zenobia Temple of the Shrine, where he was the featured speaker.

Vehicle components have become increasingly important, Mr. Carroll told the crowd. For example, Ford Motor Co. mentions the Ford F-150's frame in advertising, although it doesn't name Dana as its source, he said.

“I'd just like to have Ford say ‘Dana Corp.' every once in a while,” Mr. Carroll quipped. “They just won't do it.”

Mr. Carroll also spoke about what is ahead for Dana this year, when the company will celebrate its centennial, as well as the highs and lows of 2003. Last year was marred by the sudden death of Joe Magliochetti, Dana's chairman and chief executive, and the attempted hostile takeover by ArvinMeritor Inc., which ultimately failed.

Dana plans to plant a tree in front of its Dorr Street headquarters this spring in remembrance of Mr. Magliochetti, Mr. Carroll said. The company also plans to hold centennial celebrations at facilities worldwide this year, including one for the public in August at the headquarters, he said.

The company's stock rose 42 percent last year, but that is not enough, Mr. Carroll said. Dana's stock closed yesterday at $20.48, its highest in more than a year, on the New York Stock Exchange.

This year, Dana wants to increase sales of continuing operations by 7 percent and earnings per share by more than $1.90, Mr. Carroll said. Dana, meanwhile, is looking to sell its replacement-parts business, which accounts for nearly a quarter of sales.

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