ArvinMeritor Springs into Field of Composite Suspensions

23 March 2003

ArvinMeritor's Commercial Vehicle Systems business' Worldwide Suspension Systems division has entered into a joint agreement with Liteflex, LLC to be the sole distributor of current Liteflex truck and trailer composite mechanical springs on a global basis, effective immediately.

In addition, ArvinMeritor and Liteflex will develop integrated composite suspension systems that will address heavy-duty truck, trailer and specialty markets' needs for lighter weight and better riding suspensions. Several new systems will be available later this year.

Composite leaf trailer springs and front axle truck springs are currently utilized by many North American truck and trailer original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) on their vehicles' suspensions.

""We plan to continue to support the OEMs and will work to integrate the composite suspensions into their vehicles from the planning and designing stage,"" said Dan Chien, business unit director, Worldwide Suspension Systems. ""The new composite suspensions also will be available to our aftermarket and fleet customers.""

The trailer composite suspension systems under development will join RideStar suspension systems, a member of the company's DriveTrain Plus family of heavy-duty components for the trucking industry.

""We see composite technology as a tremendous advantage for our commercial vehicle OEM customers as we offer a value that surpasses previous suspension modules,"" said Chien. ""The composite spring's lighter weight will help provide improved fuel economy and increased payload capacity.""

According to Bob Zirlin, director of worldwide marketing, Suspension Systems and Trailer Products, composites can be designed to conduct 50 percent less vibration than steel and to be more durable, along with being corrosion resistant.

""Steel springs weigh more than their composite counterparts,"" said Zirlin. ""Composite leaf springs -- made of fiber reinforced epoxy -- are three and one-half times more durable than steel, 50-75 percent lighter than steel depending on the application, and do not rust or lose strength with age.""

""This joint agreement is a synergistic process, which will provide the best of both worlds,"" said John Prikkel, president of Liteflex. ""We are moving from a position of retrofitting vehicles to a proactive, world-class operation to meet the needs of our customers, who will benefit from ArvinMeritor's sales and engineering prowess and Liteflex's unique design and development process.""

""We're looking at highly-advanced products with composite suspensions,"" added Chien. ""You have ArvinMeritor's ability to integrate with OEMs' designs, combined with Liteflex's composite expertise and robust processing, and the results are lightweight, durable, and quieter high-performance systems that offer exceptional value.""

The composite springs will be manufactured at Liteflex's facilities in Dayton, Ohio. The company has produced over 20 million composite leaf springs for automotive and commercial vehicles over the past 22 years. Along with serving light-, medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicle markets, the springs are produced for the passenger vehicle market.

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