Suppliers increase capacity for particle filters

Munich. Suppliers are increasing capacity to produce soot particle filters for diesel vehicles to meet anticipated growth.

Ibeden, a joint venture between the Japanese company Ibeden and the French supplier Saint-Gobain, is currently the only manufacturer who can supply the substrates (honeycomb shaped structures made from silicon carbide) necessary for the filtration of soot particles. Ibeden has a total capacity of more than 500,000 units at its locations in Nagoya, Japan, and Courtenay, France.

Two new production lines will be built in 2004 to double the capacity.

Several other manufacturers are now also preparing to supply substrates.

Suppliers such as NGK from Japan and Germany's Emitec will soon launch their own products. Manufacturers of exhaust emission systems -- such as US-based Tenneco Automotive -- are preparing for increased demand. More than 100,000 substrates per year are currently integrated in exhaust emission systems at Tenneco's German location in Edenkoben. The company is expecting to soon increase its capacity.

Suppliers are encouraged by automakers announcing that they will equip models with particle filters. BMW plans to offer the 5 series and 7 series with filters starting in mid-2004. In October, Mercedes-Benz will add a filter option for four-cylinder engines for both C class and E class, and Volkswagen plans to fit Passat models with particle filters.