Knorr-Bremse expands steering business with Hitachi acquisition

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Germany-based vehicle braking technology company, Knorr-Bremse, has been increasing its involvement in the vehicle dynamics sector in recent years, with acquisition activity in 2016 relating to Swedish Haldex Aktiebolag (Haldex), a leading supplier of brake and air suspension systems for the commercial vehicle industry, and of tedrive Steering Systems GmbH. The latest development at the company is that it has signed an agreement to acquire the commercial vehicle integral power steering business (IPS) from Hitachi Automotive Systems in Japan and Thailand. 

The IPS division is the leading supplier of hydraulic power steering parts for commercial vehicles in Japan, for vehicles ranging from pickup to heavy trucks to heavy-duty trucks, and the transaction is intended to further Knorr-Bremse’s ability to offer highly integrated systems for such vehicles, as well as new functionalities in the field of driver assistance and automated driving. The acquisition is subject to approval by the anti-trust authorities and is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2019.

With this transaction, Knorr-Bremse expects to become the leading supplier of recirculating ball steering (RCB) gears for commercial vehicles in Japan, with the next planned step being to become a global supplier of commercial vehicle steering systems. This will create a solid global basis for subsequent introduction of torque overlay systems (TOS) for automated driving functions. In addition, Knorr-Bremse will gain a better access to the Japanese and the Southeast Asian market and will have the opportunity to also provide further products to the commercial vehicle segment in these regions. 

“Knorr-Bremse has global experience with commercial vehicles in the fields of vehicle dynamics, driver assistance systems and the main related actuators, which means brakes and steering. The takeover of the commercial vehicle steering business from Hitachi will expand Knorr-Bremse’s steering system portfolio and further enhance Knorr-Bremse’s future potential as a global supplier for driver assistance and highly automated driving solutions”, stated Dr Peter Laier, board member of Knorr-Bremse AG responsible for the commercial vehicle systems division.

“With the expertise of Hitachi Automotive Systems on recirculating ball steering (RCB) gears and torque overlay steering (TOS), Knorr-Bremse will strengthen the cooperation with Japanese commercial vehicle manufacturers through providing further support for their future highly automated driving vehicles. We also see good potential to use the acquired technology to support Chinese customers”, added BaoPing Xu, board member of Knorr-Bremse Asia-Pacific (Holding) in charge of the commercial vehicle systems business.

In 2017, the IPS business generated a turnover close to 100 million Euros and has strong business relationships to Japanese OEMs. The sites in Japan and Thailand comprising a workforce of around 350 employees.

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Adam divides his time as an editor between the worlds of aviation and motoring. These worlds may seem a little diverse today, but autonomous technology and future urban mobility is bringing them ever-closer. Adam is also chairman of the Vehicle Dynamics International Awards.

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