Last November, celebrations were in order at Tenneco, a member company of Agoria. The Mercedes sports car, for which they develop and produce the suspension system in Sint-Truiden, set the fastest lap time of any production car on the Nordschleife of the legendary German Nürburgring circuit.
Tenneco, a company based in Sint-Truiden (Limburg)
An American manufacturer of automotive components, particularly suspension systems.
Because the Mercedes AMG GT Black Series, for which Tenneco developed the electronically-controlled suspension system, broke the speed record for production cars at the Nürburgring.
It is a tradition for sports car manufacturers to take their new models to the German Eifel for a lap on the Nürburgring. In November 2020, Mercedes AMG tested its GT Black Series on the Nordschleife, which racing fans consider to be the green hell of the famous circuit. By beating the Lamborghini Aventador SVJ by 1.36 seconds, it became the fastest road car on this track.
The extreme sense of pride generated in Sint-Truiden is of course directly related to the suspension system that Tenneco is developing and producing for this model in collaboration with the car manufacturer.
Hans Gijrath, Global Product Manager Advanced Suspension Technology: “This sports car reaches 100 km/h in just 3.2 seconds, with a top speed of 325 km/h. The suspension system plays a crucial role in this kind of performance. It ensures optimum contact between the tyres and the road surface at all times. This allows an efficient transfer of engine power to the road and perfect response to changes in direction.”
“Thanks to the electronic control system, the power of each shock absorber is adjusted in real time according to speed, changes in direction and road conditions, among other things.”
Lightweight and electronic control
Tenneco's suspension system combines the best on the market in terms of both materials and technology: “It is made of aluminium rather than steel. In addition to being significantly lighter, this material allows the heat generated in the shock absorber to dissipate better and thus prevents it from compromising the suspension’s performance. In addition, the electronic control system adjusts the power of each shock absorber in real time according to speed, changes in direction and road conditions, among other things.”
How did these engineers from Sint-Truiden manage to outperform German and international competition? Hans Gijrath: “We were able to show them our unique technology in extensive tests with our demonstration vehicles. We then built a demo car especially for this customer. We are also the only company in this niche to offer such a high-performance, lightweight shock absorber.”
This suspension system, in addition to being a technological feat, is the result of intense collaboration between the engineering teams of Tenneco and Mercedes AMG, as well as a number of subcontractors largely from the region. Hans Gijrath: “All development is carried out by our R&D team in Sint-Truiden. Prototyping, among other things, is carried out in close cooperation with local partners. For example, numerous vehicle tests are carried out at the Lommel Proving Ground (LPG).”
The AMG GT Black Series is not the first collaboration between Tenneco and Mercedes. Indeed, the company based in Sint-Truiden had already fitted the G-Class, one of the German manufacturer’s off-road models, with its suspension technology.
Focus on heavy-duty and powerful cars
In the coming years, Tenneco will focus even more on the heavy-duty and powerful SUV segment. Hans Gijrath: “These models are particularly demanding in terms of shock absorption: comfort must be optimal, while the vehicle must remain stable during acceleration and braking and not be subject to excessive rolling in corners.”
And then, of course, we are talking about larger production volumes. Hans Gijrath: “Although a sporty model like the AMG GT Black Series is considered a production car, the volumes are still quite limited. In parallel with the development of other segments, the further growth of our production is therefore one of our main objectives at the moment.”
More information: www.tenneco.com