Interview with a friction expert:
Vice President Global Aftermarket Category Management and Commercial Director for region Middle East, Africa, Asia & Pacific (MEAAP) at TMD Friction
In an interview with Marco Loth, Vice President Global Aftermarket Category Management and Commercial Director for the Middle East, Africa, Asia & Pacific (MEAAP) region at TMD Friction, he reveals how the world’s leading manufacturer of disc brake pads and drum brake linings is responding to the current market trend of electromobility as friction experts supporting retailers, workshops and leasing companies with its brand portfolio for the mobility needs of the future.
Marco Loth has extensive experience in the automotive aftermarket across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and China. Since beginning his career more than 23 years ago, Marco has established a number of regional sales organisations. He has lived and worked in Singapore, Istanbul and Dubai for eight years.
At TMD Friction as Vice President, he is responsible for the Global Category Management. Marco also heads up the aftermarket business in the entire MEAAP region, with offices in Dubai, Shanghai and Singapore. He uses his profound knowledge of the region, and his ability to adapt to different cultural contexts, to advance the presence of TMD Friction in the region.
Market trend of electrification – what does TMD Friction offer its customers to meet the associated requirements?
“As the original equipment manufacturer for the BMW i8 and i3, we were one of the first manufacturers to develop brake pads for electric vehicles and, among other things, supply products for VW’s ID platform. We also work with Tesla. As a friction expert, we are in the right place here, because individual material coordination is even more important for e-vehicles than for combustion engines. TMD Friction covers more than 99% of the European fleet of electric vehicles and hybrids with its Textar aftermarket programme. In this way, we help the spare parts market remain competitive, even for newly introduced models.”
What requirements does the electric vehicle place on the brake pad?
“It is important to take completely different requirements into account. Electric vehicles inherently have a much lower noise level. Of course, the noises of the braking process must not be louder than the vehicle itself. We have a team of specialists that exclusively deal with noise, vibration and harshness. In addition, we have the material expertise to develop a pad that is not so aggressive to minimise the noise development between the pad and the disc, yet aggressive enough to deliver good performance and to brake it free from corrosion that arises from the low use – because the recuperative braking of e-vehicles means that the friction brake is used less often. These experiences also pay off for the IAM.
Does the Textar programme also offer a special brake pad for electric cars?
Unlike many competitors who cover a wide range of brake system components, but only work with standard solutions in the friction products sector, we have been developing our own application-specific friction formulations for more than 100 years. In our development and testing facilities we have created around 50,000 friction formulations in the last three decades alone. Hardly any other brake component influences the performance and comfort of braking more than the brake pad – it is often underestimated. Therefore, in contrast to the competition, which markets special “green” brake pads for e-cars, we at Textar do not need a special programme for the aftermarket.”
Will there be a shift in demand for new brake discs and/or pads as a result of electric vehicles?
“Whether electrification will reduce the frequency and profitability of brake repairs is a much- discussed issue. Yes, due to the strong self-braking action of the electric motor, the conventional friction brake is less stressed. In an electric car, I can remain stopped at traffic lights due to the engine braking effect, without even pressing the brake. In principle, I can drive a Tesla relatively well without having to brake much, but then the rear wheel brake quickly becomes completely rusty. In this respect, demand will simply shift. In that case I will no longer change the pad simply because it has dropped down to a millimetre, but because of the rust. Otherwise, the car will no longer pass the main inspection. In addition, it must also be kept in mind that the service intervals are not only an issue for the aftermarket, but also for the authorised workshop. It can therefore be assumed that the vehicle manufacturers will also keep a close eye on demand and will react to it in some form in series production.”
With all the hype surrounding electric cars – how long will you still supply your customers with spare parts for cars with internal combustion engines?
“I’m sure there will be cars with internal combustion engines for a long time to come. Whether electric cars really are the only future remains to be seen, in my opinion. It has not yet been proven that an electric vehicle is so much more carbon-neutral than an internal combustion engine, if we take into consideration the entire manufacturing process, as well as the disposal and so on. The necessary infrastructure is also not yet in place. At the moment, in my view, subsidies are still responsible for the increased number of registrations. So yes, there will be normal pads for internal combustion engines for a long time to come yet – although perhaps they will have a different composition of materials. And in order to do justice to the environmental concept, we as friction experts are continuously working on making the pad and disc cleaner – for example by dispensing with heavy metals, certain chemicals or bonding materials, but also by using more environmentally friendly packing materials.
In addition, it is part of our sustainability strategy to reduce CO2 emissions along the entire value chain. In 2021, we were able to reduce this by 33 percent compared to the previous year. This means that we are already making a contribution to greener braking through many small changes.”