Brake system technology specialist Continental Teves, a part of Germany's Continental A.G., is expanding its aftermarket operations in North America to provide more comprehensive coverage of its ATE-branded brake products, including products for U.S. and Asian vehicles for the first time.
To prepare for the expansion of services, Auburn Hills-based Continental Teves has set up a distribution center in Louisville, Ky., that will stock the entire line of ATE brake products, ship customer orders and process returns.
ATE brake products, including brake rotors and brake pads, have been known in Europe for more than a century and today are original equipment (OE) on many European cars. The ATE line-ATE comes from Alfred Teves, founder of the company-has been sold in North America since the mid-1970s for European import vehicles, initially under the auspices of ITT-Teves and then Continental Teves since 1998 when Continental bought ITT Industries' braking system business.
The primary product lines being offered are the PremiumOne disc brake rotors and pads, primarily for European vehicles but starting in the first quarter of 2006 also for domestic and Asian vehicles.
In expanding its business, Conti Teves is trying to leverage its image as a supplier to the top European car makers, said Donald James, marketing manager, in order to get traditional wholesale distributors to stock the firm's parts and sell them.
``We're offering the (wholesale) distributors a differentiated product,'' Mr. James said, ``that serves a premium market segment without being the highest priced.''
Conti Teves makes all its brake system products-it offers calipers, boosters and hydraulic components as well-in Europe.
The company says it designs its ATE PremiumOne rotors application-specific-that is, all are based on the OE design and engineered to stringent tolerances.
ATE's premium rotors feature a differentiated and patented RotorLife wear indicator, giving technicians a visual indicator of when the rotor should be replaced. The rotor's groove design also disperses dirt and water and enhances the dissipation of heat and gases to reduce brake fade and extend pad life, the company claims.
In addition, Conti said it treats each PremiumOne rotor with MetaCote, a protective coating that not only helps prevent rust and corrosion, but also provides an attractive finish.
The rotors earned a first place ``New Product Showcase'' at the Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo (AAPEX) last November in Las Vegas. ATE earned first place in the ``Making It Better'' category, which highlights products that are an improved version of a previous product, through weight savings, durability, fit and finish or problem solving.
Conti said its ATE rotors were recognized because of the RotorLife wear indicator.
David M. Mestdagh, formerly with Visteon Corp. and Federal-Mogul Corp., is overseeing Teves' North American aftermarket operations, responsible for the overall business strategy, product quality and performance.
The ATE aftermarket business for North America is located in the Continental Automotive Systems headquarters and engineering center in Auburn Hills, where Conti already has about 600 OE engineers, sales, marketing, purchasing and finance professionals.