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Bridging the gap between price and performance

Friday, September 8, 2017 - 06:00
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With new manufacturers making shocks and struts, and driving costs down every day, the veterans of the market must respond to defend their roles as industry leaders. Using the best materials and manufacturing techniques available to make struts can provide high performance and longevity, but at a higher cost. On the other hand, the cheapest prices often mean lower quality and unreliable technology. Gabriel® Ride Control recognized the need for something in between, bringing their ReadyMount® struts to the industry stage.
 
Expanded options
Shocks and struts play an integral role in a vehicle’s suspension system. Ride control, safety, comfort, and a driver’s ability to steer and brake depend on having firm contact between the vehicle’s tires and the road. Shocks and struts ensure this contact remains consistent and secure under any driving conditions. As a structural sub-system of the vehicle, struts require the highest level of quality control during assembly. This can sometimes be complicated, difficult, and delicate.
 
Around the year 2004, some ride control manufacturers began to offer “loaded” struts. Before then, struts and the mounts to affix them to the vehicle were sold separately and required more labor to install. Loaded struts are pre-assembled, with the strut and mount in one product. This increased the price, but significantly reduced installation time and difficulty. Over the years, more companies began to offer loaded struts, and now most manufacturers provide a loaded option.
 
The state of the union
Recently, there has been a lot of turmoil in the ride control industry. There have always been cheaper, imported options competing against U.S. companies. However, what they offered in reduced price usually brought with it a reduction in quality as well. These options existed, but they rarely provided serious competition to the established companies in the country.
 
However, in the past few years, the industry has seen a surprising jump in both the number of off-shore competing companies and the quality of their products. In a relatively short time, significant competition on the economy price level has developed. New competitors are appearing every day, utilizing higher quality raw materials than past imported aftermarket products. To defend their market standing, U.S. companies must find a way to compete with the rising quality and low prices of these off-shore companies.
 
Inspired by the market
Gabriel Ride Control responded to this competition with their line of shocks and struts. Not everyone is willing to pay top dollar for the highest performing product, but it takes money to create a product that lives up to the highest standards. Gabriel products offer the best of both worlds: quality ride control products at fair price that will fit any budget.
 
Until recently, the only Gabriel struts available were bare struts. If customers wanted to purchase a Gabriel loaded strut, or a ReadyMount, they chose the ReadyMount option or resigned themselves to buying a bare strut and putting in the extra time and effort for the installation. With the pool of off-shore competition constantly growing, it was time to expand the product line.
 
In late 2014, Gabriel introduced a limited edition of ReadyMount fully-loaded struts. Since then, the product has become more readily available with each passing month. Gabriel’s products are designed and priced to fit a variety of budgets with no compromise in safety or structural strength. “It is Gabriel’s hope that the ReadyMount will bridge the gap between reliable but expensive and cheap but low-quality,” said Brad Scott, Director of Strategic Accounts at Gabriel North America. “We want to offer safe and sturdy struts without breaking the bank.” As a result, ReadyMount includes not only the strut and the mount, but the coil spring is included, as well.
 
Bang for your buck
Choosing loaded ReadyMounts instead of bare struts turns a half-day job into a half-hour task. ReadyMount struts make this safe and easy loaded strut technology available on the economy level. At the same time, they offer the superior features and benefits that are expected of full-price Gabriel shocks and struts.
 
Design: Many manufacturers reverse engineer other aftermarket products for their designs. This is essentially creating a copy of a copy, and retaining any mistakes or shortcomings present in the original. The design work for every product that Gabriel builds is done in their Michigan lab. Their designs are based on OE parts, and are built to meet or exceed the OE standards. This includes the ReadyMount.
 
Testing: Just like the rest of Gabriel’s shocks and struts, ReadyMounts are heavily tested at every phase of production. The durability, structural strength, longevity, comfort, and performance are all tested to give customers the best possible experience for an economical price. From design simulation before the struts are even built to fit- and ride-testing in real vehicles, no aspect is left to chance.
 
Features: Even with a lower price, the ReadyMounts still feature a super-finished chromed piston rod to prevent wear that can damage the oil seal and cause premature leaking and failure. The oil seal itself uses an OE design that minimizes friction to maintain optimal functionality. As the company follows the market, ReadyMounts, and all of Gabriel’s products, offer all of the design quality, testing, and features with industry-leading coverage. By the end of the year, Gabriel plans to offer their ReadyMounts for 500 leading part numbers, so compatibility will never be an issue.
 
A consumer’s market
As more and more ride control companies, both off-shore and local, create more products to throw into the mix, the competition will continue to put pressure on manufacturers to create the best and most affordable products possible. Gabriel is working hard to offer their top-quality service to a broader price-bracket. To this end, the ReadyMounts are a welcome addition to Gabriel’s line of products. As the market continues to evolve, the technology and availability will only continue to improve.

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