LAS VEGAS, Nev. – With its manufacturing plants updated and its balance sheet fixed, Accuride is turning its attention to new product development, several of which were introduced at this year’s Heavy-Duty Aftermarket Week (HDAW).
Accuride is a more focused company today, having shed five of its former business units.
“We are now just a wheel and wheel-end company,” said Rick Dauch, president and CEO, who has overseen the company’s turnaround. Accuride was taken private late last year, and a cash injection by Crestview Capital has allowed it to restructure some debt and fix its strained balance sheet.
Accuride has come out with a 40-lb aluminum wheel.
Dauch also pointed out four of the company’s plants have won manufacturing excellence awards in recent years.
“We are starting to get some customer recognition,” he said, noting several OEMs have given Accuride supplier awards. “We are starting to earn new business with those customers. We have re-earned standard position at Volvo Trucks. We lost that position in 2007.”
The company is focused on doubling or tripling its size within the next two to three years, including growing its global presence. But the focus now is on new product introductions, Dauch said, and he unveiled two of those at HDAW: a new 40-lb aluminum wheel dubbed the Quantum 99; and what Accuride claims to be the industry’s first 65-lb steel wheels.
The Quantum 99 allow is 20% stronger than the company’s previous alloy and boasts twice the fatigue life of competitive 40-lb wheels, Dauch said. While a 40-lb aluminum wheel is already on the market, Dauch said Accuride chose to wait until it developed a wheel that could withstand a million cycles before coming to market. He said the result is a wheel that’s twice as strong as its nearest competitor.
The new wheel is five pounds lighter than its predecessor, which it will replace. The new wheel will be released in the third quarter of 2017.
Accuride has come out with what it claims to be the lightest steel wheel in the world.
The company’s new 65-lb steel Accu-Lite wheel is six pounds lighter than today’s version and will be available Apr. 1. The two handhold model weighs in at 67 lbs, a three pound reduction over its predecessor. Dauch pointed out steel wheels weighed in at 80 lbs 20 years ago, and suggested the new wheel is the lightest steel wheel in the world.
Accuride also extended the warranties available on its Steel Armor and Eversteel coatings. Steel Armor is now covered by a five-year standard warranty, while EverSteel’s warranty has been extended to eight years.
Dauch said testing shows the Eversteel coating can last 10-12 years, so further warranty extensions may be considered once it has been on the market longer.
“We don’t have enough field data yet but I think it will come eventually,” Dauch said of even longer warranties.
Looking further out, Dauch said Accuride continues to be encouraged by test results of a lightweight aluminum brake drum. Six fleets are currently testing the drum, and Dauch said “initial results after the first four months are astounding in terms of wear resistance and lightweighting.”
One fleet has added 500 lbs of additional payload and makes four trips a day, resulting in an additional 2,000 lbs of payload per day, Dauch said. They’re also changing their brakes three times less often than with traditional drums. Dauch said he hopes the company will bring the aluminum brake drums to market in 2018 or 2019.
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies