The business is having to take action in response to changes in the market for replacement exhausts, of which it claims to occupy a 60% share, reveals Jay Sanchez, managing director of ArvinMeritor Light Vehicle Aftermarket Europe.
More and more vehicle manufacturers are fitting stainless steel systems as OE, prolonging the period after which a replacement exhaust is necessary. In addition, the increased popularity of diesel, which is less aggressive to exhaust systems, is having a similar impact.
As a result, says Sanchez, the point at which an exhaust requires replacing, which was typically at four years, now comes at six years.
“It is a concern, that’s why we have been taking action to respond with our operations in Europe to match the changes in the market,” explains Sanchez. The business is now producing OE niche and non-catalogue systems for specialist marques such as Ferrari and Lamborghini. “It’s building on the technology that we have for core manufacturing and design considerations. We have been successful at doing that – however our core business is automotive and that will stay as such.”
Sanchez has a three-stage plan to expand its UK operation. First, he wants to invest in the manufacturing plant at Cheadle, Staffordshire, which he promises will become a world-class operation, capable of successfully meeting the challenges posed by the increasing range of cars and consequent growth in requirement of aftermarket parts.
The second stage is to grow its export market in Europe by increasing the number of products. “We believe in our UK operation and wish to see it grow,” he adds. Sanchez argues that the potential competition to the parts market from China and other countries in the Far East is “no major threat”.