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Ai interview Robert Lightfoot, Purchasing and Marketing Director, TRW Automotive Aftermarket Europe

TRW Automotive Aftermarket is a leading provider of high-quality replacement parts, service and technical support for both independent aftermarket and vehicle manufacturers service. The company supplies 40 major vehicle manufacturers with original equipment for over 250 models. TRW Automotive Aftermarket is part of the USD 11.6 billion TRW Automotive – one of the world’s leading automotive suppliers. The Michigan-headquartered company employs 60,000 people in 200 facilities in 26 countries. 

According to recent figures, one in three vehicles in Europe contain TRW Automotive-branded parts. And out of 27 vehicles chosen by the US-based Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for their safety standards, 21 of them featured TRW’s intelligent safety systems. These include the company’s occupant safety, electronic, steering and braking technologies. 

Some of the TRW active and passive safety technologies featured on chosen vehicles included the company’s electronic stability control. These combine antilock brakes and traction control with a yaw stability function to help reduce the possibility of a loss of vehicle control caused by skidding, sliding, oversteer / understeer or panic braking when the vehicle’s tires are on two different surfaces, such as a patch of ice and dry pavement. 

Then there is TRW Automotive’s electric park brake which enhances vehicle safety, driver comfort and convenience and is a fully integrated part of the brake system that also allows for emergency brake control. Many of the vehicles chosen for their safety standards also included TRW’s side airbags and its curtain airbags which protect up to three rows of passengers in side and rollover accidents. Plus many featured TRW’s knee airbags as well as the company’s electric power steering which TRW says cuts CO2 emissions by only consuming power when steering assist is needed and requires 90 percent less energy than conventional power steering. 

Recently TRW Automotive launched its Low Cost Clamp-In or LCCI sensor for tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) applications in 2011 model year vehicles in Europe. “This new, low cost sensor design is a first step in our roadmap to fundamentally lower the cost of TPMS, which is good news for a technology with recognized value being mandated in North America and soon in Europe and South Korea. These systems must first and foremost have robust performance across a range of challenging operating conditions, but must also be affordable for vehicle manufacturers and their customers,” said Martin Thoone, vice president, global electronics engineering for TRW. 

The launch of the LCCI sensor further strengthens TRW’s position in Europe where the company is already a leader in chassis systems and braking. TRW has dedicated aftermarket manufacturing facilities across Europe, focusing on its core capabilities in chassis systems. The aftermarket business employs approximately 1,300 employees in 23 countries. Similarly with braking systems, TRW has more than 90 percent of the independent aftermarket program manufactured in-house. TRW also offers a wide range of TRW-branded, premium-quality steering and suspension products in Europe. “Manufactured to exacting TRW safety standards, our S&S program is unmatched in quality in the IAM. Our enhanced range of more than 4,000 part numbers includes the highest-quality remanufactured steering racks in the aftermarket. Plus linkage parts, including wishbones and control arms, track rods and track rod ends, suspension ball joints, stabilizer links, bushes and bellows,” says the company. 

Automotive Industries spoke to Robert Lightfoot, Purchasing and Marketing Director, TRW Automotive Aftermarket (Europe).

AI: What do the recent award by the IIHS mean for TRW Automotive Aftermarket? And the figures that show that one in three vehicles in Europe have TRW-branded parts?

To have TRW’s technologies on more than 75 percent of the vehicles selected as Top Safety Picks is a true testament to our commitment to providing high-quality products to our customers. Our technologies not only improve driver safety, but they are also cost effective and environmentally efficient, helping vehicle manufacturers meet new fuel economy and emissions standards. 

For the aftermarket this means that we can supply the latest technology first to our customers, including the Electric Park Brake and the latest Electric Power Steering systems. The fact that so many cars on the road now have TRW safety parts fitted as standard makes TRW Automotive Aftermarket even easier to deal with.
As the leading corner module provider, TRW has a unique position for steering, linkage, suspension, brake and electronic automotive aftermarket products. Compared to the 34 main competitors in each of those technologies, TRW provides the highest application coverage of the european vehicle parc. – meaning that our customers can easily get an allmakes supply of OE quality replacement parts for every part of the corner module.

AI: What is the secret to the success of TRW’s products?

First, and foremost, customers trust in the quality of TRW products. This is because of our rigorous test procedures, our original equipment experience and our strong manufacturing footprint which enables us to produce over 90% of TRW aftermarket product in house. 

We have a policy of being first to market with our aftermarket range, and because of our close links to our OE colleagues we can also bring the latest technology to the aftermarket first. 

Aside from that, TRW is seen as a partner to our customers, supplying innovative product developments and useful added value to our core product ranges.

AI: Tell us about the recent LCCI sensor launch for tire pressure monitoring systems in Europe – what does this imply for the market?

The LCCI sensor launch is just one of a number of product launches relating to our smart thinking technologies. 

These are being developed to address a number of challenges that exist in today’s automotive market. There are particular challenges that come with the tremendous growth in emerging markets, along with the requirement to make advanced safety solutions affordable across the range of platforms – including for the increasing proportion of fuel efficient smaller or hybrid/electric vehicles. For emerging markets we need to return to the fundamentals of passive safety. We need to seek to deliver affordable, more basic active systems and work together with industry bodies and governments to educate drivers and other road users as road traffic volumes increase at a significant pace. 

At TRW, we believe passionately in the importance of making systems accessible and affordable across all global markets. With our wide portfolio of active and passive safety systems, and our global footprint, there is much that we can do in support of the industry and government focus on protecting people. We want to play our part in delivering the safety everyone deserves.

AI: What are some of the features of TRW’s automotive cognitive safety systems that make these systems so effective?

Our Cognitive Safety Systems help keep people safer by making vehicles smarter. By combining our active and passive technology with our electronics and sensing capabilities, we create intelligent systems that help enhance the safety of pedestrians, drivers and passengers. 

The systems give early warning of threats and actively intervene when necessary, to help prevent or mitigate the consequences of a collision. 

Technology highlights include lane guidance systems, automatic emergency braking and forward collision control. 

TRW also designs modular safety systems, which are scalable and therefore more cost effective to fit. This increases the accessibility of our safety systems across all makes and models. 

Finally, TRW strives to enhance both fuel efficiency and reduce harmful emissions across our whole product range to preserve the environment and help keep passengers and drivers safer.

AI: What are the future technological innovations from TRW Automotive?

We are beginning to equip seat belt systems with new Dynamic Locking Tongue (DLT) technology. 

The Dynamic Locking Tongue is a simple and effective way to help manage the energy of an occupant in a crash, it works in concert with other seat belt technologies such as pretensioners and load limiters, and its ability to reduce chest compression loads is of benefit in complying with the more stringent test criteria now in place for the Euro NCAP and USNCAP ratings systems. 

Earlier this year we also launched the second generation Head Protection System for Convertibles (HPSC II). 

TRW’s HPSC II technology is fully integrated in the backrest bolster eliminating the need for an integrated head rest and thereby increasing its compatibility with a broader range of convertible vehicles – at a lower cost. 

Like the first generation HPSC, the second generation HPSC also takes into account different load cases and passenger sizes. This adaptability improves the airbags’ position in relation to the occupant in the event of a side crash situation. 

The Company’s first generation HPSC is currently in production with a major European vehicle manufacturer and the second generation of this innovative airbag module concept will be ready for vehicle launches in 2013.

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Tue. July 23rd, 2024

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