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February 27, 2017 1:00 PM, EST

Brakes Just as Vital to Company Success as Axles, Meritor Says

Chris Villavarayan by John Sommers II for TT

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Brakes are “absolutely key” to Meritor’s growth and performance going forward, according to an executive with the company.

“Meritor is viewed as an axle company that also makes brakes,” Chris Villavarayan, president of Americas for Meritor, told Transport Topics in an interview at the Technology & Maintenance Council’s 2017 annual meeting.

If one thinks about Meritor, “of the $3 billion-plus that we are, a billion of it is brakes,” Villavarayan said. “In my mind we’re a brake company that also makes axles.”

And brakes are “absolutely key to our performance,” he said, noting about six out of 10 trucks today “run on our brakes in North America.”

Nevertheless, on Feb. 26, Meritor unveiled its new 14X HE tandem drive axle for linehaul applications. Meritor described the axle, a modification of its 14X from 2011, as a “premium” axle that is available now as an option on highway tractors made by Freightliner, International, Kenworth, Peterbilt and Volvo.

Addressing long-term company strategy, Villavarayan said that around the 2010 through 2012 time frame, Meritor was launching about one product a year. In perspective, the company launched the 14X axle about six years ago, he said.

In its M2013 strategy, which was its last three-year strategy, Meritor set a goal to triple that, aiming to launch three products a year, he said. Over that period, the objective was to launch about 10 products, which it exceeded, he said. A part of that was the announcements on its new driveline and its lightweight disc brake, he said.

As the company looks at M2019, its next three-year strategy, the goal is to double that — to go from 10 products to 20 products, or about seven a year, he said.

The first product launched was the 14X HE axle. “This is an advancement on the 14X axle and it is to essentially continue our evolution towards efficiency and performance, and it’s to drive above a 1.5% to 2% improvement on fuel efficiency of the existing platforms we’ve had,” he said.

“All we’re trying to do is one more mile with less fuel,” he said. “To continue that push to the highest, most efficient product.”