Knorr-Bremse shuttering Wulfrathe facility

MUNICH, Germany–Knorr-Bremse announced this week it is closing down its steering systems production at Wulfrathe by 2020.

The company is not getting out of the business, but consolidating its production and research and development around commercial steering systems.

The company said that its aim is to retain a substantial portion of the 356 people at the facility, which includes 66 contractors.

Knorr-Bremse entered the steering systems business in 2016 when it acquired tedrive GmbH, headquartered in Wulfrath. The company Knorr-Bremse acquired manufactured and marketed an extensive portfolio that includes rack-and-pinion as well as recirculating ball steering gear systems across all vehicle segments.

tedrive Steering has been a leader in the development of competitive, high-performance steering technology with lightweight steering solutions and award-winning intelligent Hydraulic Steering Assist (iHSA®) technology. This hydraulic system with electric steering actuation was developed with a view to meeting the demands of autonomous driving in commercial vehicles.

The strategic aim behind acquiring a steering systems business was to compete better in the technical areas that are critical to developing autonomous driving systems. Knorr-Bremse’s electronic brake control systems were already playing a role in AV development with auto manufacturers. But by adding steering systems, the company said at the time of acquisition, Knorr-Bremse “will be able to offer extended automated driving functionalities that were previously restricted to the passenger car sector, such as active lane-keeping on motorways/freeways, as well as functionalities specific to commercial vehicles, such as platooning – automated driving in convoys with short distances between vehicles – or autonomous yard maneuvering.”

Indeed, Knorr-Bremse is taking part in the push to equip commercial vehicles with autonomous driving capability. Regulators and companies see the implementation of such systems in commercial vehicles to be an easier jump into self-driving than it will be with personal vehicles.

Knorr-Bremse is a global leader in braking systems and leading supplier of other safety-critical rail and commercial vehicle systems. The company has 28,500 employees worldwide at over 100 sites in 30 countries.

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David Kiley is Chief of Content for The BRAKE Report. Kiley is an award-winning business journalist and author, having covered the auto industry for USA Today, Businessweek, AOL/Huffington Post, as well as written articles for Automobile and Popular Mechanics.