Developments in wheel manufacture

After the acquisition of the FNV – Fábrica Nacional de Vagões Cruzeiro plant in 1990, where wheels were already being manufactured, Iochpe-Maxion rolled out a strategic growth plan for the segment that—three decades later—continues to pay dividends.

The plan was designed to step up production, boost sales, increase investment in process improvement and technology, and prospect clients abroad. In 1990, wheel production was somewhere around 400 thousand units a year. The plan to enable the company to compete more robustly broad was to ratchet production up to a million units per annum.

With an eye on this wheel market potential, Iochpe-Maxion discontinued Freuhauf trailer production at the Cruzeiro plant and refitted the facility for an expanded wheel line. The Autoparts Division, as it was then called, was tasked with implementing the change. The new e-coating technology was applied across the production lines, accruing value and making the product more competitive. The investment was concentrated in the production of tubeless tires, which were new to the Brazilian market at the time, but already a favorite abroad.

In 1992, Iochpe-Maxion acquired Fumagalli’s production line of tubeless tires for trucks, busses and agricultural machinery. The facility, which was semi-new, turned out roughly 30 thousand units a month, which positioned the company as a major player in the sector.

In 2001, sticking to its wheel-sector expansion plan, Iochpe-Maxion acquired the Borlem S.A. Empreendimentos Industrias steel wheels business from Hayes Lemmerz. The facilities produced wheels for agricultural machinery and off-road vehicles.

In 2009, the Company bought the rest of Fumagalli from the Arvin Meritor Group, adding the plants in Brazil and Mexico to its growing stable. The result was the “Fumagalli Division”. The following year, with a view to increasing its production capacity in Mexico, the Company bought a stake in the wheel business of Nugar S.A.P.I, which belonged to C.V., a Mexican outfit controlled by CIE Automotive.

When Iochpe-Maxion took over the global businesses of Hayes Lemmerz and the Galaz group in 2012, it unified the management of its wheel-sector units under a new division, Maxion Wheels.  Today, with its expansion and internationalization plan duly consolidated, Maxion Wheels produces and sells a whole gamut of steel wheels for light, commercial and agricultural vehicles and aluminum wheels for light vehicles. With 23 plants across 12 countries, its annual wheel output runs to over 65 million units.