The UK’s number one wheel balancing weight maker, Trax JH, is in the process of expanding its production of clip-on balance weights to include steel. The steel products are expected to hit the market in the first quarter of 2009, following the installation of new machinery at the expanded Trax factory in Wales. More details are expected to follow when production gets underway at the end of 2008.
“We have developed a unique design and manufacturing method which is the subject of three patent applications,” managing director John Halle told Tyres & Accessories, explaining: “The new steel weights are designed to perform the same as the current Trax zinc weights, which includes the ‘cam-backed’ weights for steel wheels which have been widely accepted as the most universal and best available.”
As it stands, the announcement makes Trax the first European balance weight manufacturer to produce clip-on weights using steel. Trax’s decision to offer steel weights in addition to the successful zinc range it already offers follows leading OE player’s decision to use steel weights and means new opportunities for Trax. Japanese OE moved to all steel (clip-on and adhesive) weights in around 2001 when they went lead-free. The green lobby is now also encouraging car makers to go lead-free in the US. As a result Ford and GM (USA) are using 100 per cent lead-free weights from this year.
And what’s more they have opted for steel as a product material over zinc. Their thinking is that steel is easier to recycle and is therefore a more environmental solution than zinc. This is expected to filter through into the US aftermarket in due course with Bridgestone and Firestone retail outlets already moving to all steel weights. Coming to America Trax’s management recently returned from a fact finding trip to the USA and Canada, designed to help the company better plan the development of its transatlantic operations.
According to John Halle, the company is interested in marketing its new steel clip-on weights in the US via either export supply or external manufacture under licence. Trax will also be exhibiting at the SEMA show in Las Vegas in November. With all these expansion plans underway, Trax representatives told T&A the company has created a vacancy for a new marketing position to promote the company and its products into new and existing markets.