Tenneco looks to boost category

Jan. 1, 2020
MONROE, Mich – The total number of shocks and struts sold in the U.S. has declined from 33.3 million units in 1998 to 24.6 million units last year, according to data from the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA). That’s

MONROE, Mich – The total number of shocks and struts sold in the U.S. has declined from 33.3 million units in 1998 to 24.6 million units last year, according to data from the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA). That’s a trend in need of an overhaul and it’s the focal point of several initiatives underway at Tenneco Automotive.

The manufacturer of Monroe® brand shocks and struts has launched an effort to encourage vehicle owners to check or replace these items every 50,000 miles. They’ve even partnered with a couple OEMs — namely Ford and General Motors — to have new vehicle manuals contain recommended service and inspection intervals for these components.

“Part of our challenge is to create a trigger point for people to remind them to check their shocks and struts,” says Richard Alameddine, vice president of marketing.

Tenneco used a press event April 29 at the company’s technical center in Monroe, Mich., to discuss its efforts to raise awareness of suspension maintenance.

One problem with ride control is that it’s usually not obvious when parts wear out. Drivers don’t hear a noise, as with brakes, or have some other “wear indicator” that tells them when parts are failing. These parts degrade over time, which masks poor performance, he says.

The company used component life cycle research to determine that excess wear begins around the 50,000-mile mark. Now the task is conveying that message and having consumers take action. The supplier is pursuing several initiatives to boost sales in this segment, including:

n Continuation of its “Ride Safe Tour” (RST) traveling program, which educates consumers and service dealers about suspension system operation and helps them identify warning signs of failing parts. The tour will stop in roughly 40 cities this year. There have been more than 150 events throughout the U.S. and Canada since the program launched in April 2003. Roughly 185,000 people have passed through the trailer and 44,289 have driven simulators showing how worn shocks impact stopping distances.n Education of service technicians. Tenneco will have trained 20,000 technicians by the end of 2004 using ride-and-drive training events. The company notes an uptick in sales from a region every time these training sessions take place.n Introduction of interactive point-of-sale displays at the service bays to show consumers the difference between new and worn shocks. At press time 5,000 in-shop displays had been shipped and more were being produced.n The launch of Quick Strut™, a new product that packages all strut components together to make it easier for DIYers and technicians to replace struts.

These and other initiatives are aimed at driving the category forward, says Alameddine. “We could stand by and watch the erosion happen, or we could try innovative things that help the installers and the help the consumers.”

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