Vehicle technology
The Technology Centre in Großkötz, Germany.
11.11.2021

A success story: 90 Years AL-KO Vehicle Technology

A leader in quality and driver of innovation in the motorhome, caravan, commercial vehicle, and commercial trailer sector

The AL-KO Vehicle Technology Group, based in the Bavarian-Swabian town of Kötz, has grown over the last 90 years to become what it is today: a leader in quality, a driver of innovation and the epitome of safety and comfort in the motorhome, caravan, commercial vehicle, and commercial trailer sector. “Our trade is always geared towards quality, functionality and comfort for comprehensive driving safety,” says Harald Hiller, President and CEO of the AL-KO Vehicle Technology Group: “We are now very much a part of the mobility transformation.” More than 3,800 employees worldwide develop and manufacture high-quality chassis and chassis components for trailers as well as leisure, agricultural and commercial vehicles at over forty sites.

From Germany to the world

In 2016, AL-KO Vehicle Technology and Dexter Axle, a leading developer and manufacturer of trailer axles, brakes, and related components in North America, merged under the umbrella of DexKo Global Inc. to accelerate the company’s growth. Acquisitions of well-known companies such as CM Trailer Parts, E&P
Hydraulics, Bankside Patterson and most recently Nordelettronica and Brink followed. Currently, 15 international brands belong to the globally operating technology group. This will double the turnover to almost US$ 1 billion by the end of 2021. Further significant sales growth to US$ 1.5 billion is targeted for the year 2025.

“It is really incredible how the AL-KO Vehicle Technology Group has grown and developed. The team has done an outstanding job. The focus on our customers, partners and employees, consistency through financial stability, a high level of innovation and the philosophy of having everything to do with chassis and peripherals from a single source, are what made this possible. All of this will continue to define us in the future,” explains Harald Hiller and continues: “We are still on course for growth, which became particularly clear with the acquisition of Brink, our largest single acquisition for the DexKo Group worldwide to date. With the towbars, a completely new business area came to us, which is already served by over 900 colleagues today and is expected to grow further.” The global network is reflected in the production figures. The annual production of approximately 700,000 axles and axle systems, around 100,000 chassis platforms, the 28 millionth hitch or 22 million axles speak for themselves.

And the future?

The research and development department has developed from a local sector focused on vehicles and trailers to an internationally networked organisation with a comprehensive portfolio of technology and expertise. AL-KO Vehicle Technology Group takes an active role in the megatrends of the mobility industry such as caravanning, e-mobility and last-mile logistics. It offers products and solutions for the boom in the construction and agricultural vehicle industries with a view to feeding the world’s ever-growing population. And it caters for lifestyle trends such as Tiny Houses. “We will expand our expertise in all these areas. In addition, our ability to customise sophisticated, safety-relevant chassis and chassis systems subject to approval will remain crucial in the future,” says Dr Frank Sager, Senior Vice President Research and Development, of the developments over the next few years.

Light commercial trailers are in demand

The company supplies chassis for trade and commerce that can be individually supplemented with configurations. With excellent ergonomics and special quality standards, AL-KO Vehicle Technology maintains high safety standards for its components. The innovative lightweight construction also increases the vehicle’s useful weight. A new feature is the electronic mass-adaptive anti-skidding aid ATC. It provides protection against accidents caused by the vehicle combination snaking. Braking interventions within seconds on the trailer axle protect belongings.

Caravaning boom continues

Caravanning is becoming increasingly popular. After seven years of growth in a row, the industry sees record demand for caravans, motorhomes, and panel vans in 2021 as well. “Individual travel in a leisure vehicle is a safe form of holiday and is becoming increasingly popular. Therefore, as an essential supplier for the motorhome and caravan sector, we will continue to push our core competencies from lightweight chassis through to chassis-related components and electronics,” says Harald Hiller.

Tiny House: small but powerful

The perfect Tiny House needs the right chassis. AL-KO Vehicle Technology draws on many years of experience to provide the best foundation for tiny homes. “We see this trend as a market of the future and our specially developed AL-KO chassis provide a secure foundation for high-quality Tiny Houses,” explains Karlheinz
Spägele, Vice President Sales Commercial Trailer & Light Commercial Vehicles at the AL-KO Vehicle Technology Group.

Hydraulic components: A growth market with potential

“We have great ideas in the pipeline for the future of support systems. Now the HY4 hydraulic levelling support system allows motorhomes to be levelled in the horizontal position in just one minute. It is the only hydraulic levelling support system that does not require the installation of hydraulic components inside the vehicle,” explains Maximilian Lukas, Head of Hydraulic Levelling Systems. SAFIM, one of the AL-KO Vehicle Technology Group’s brands, is also active in the development of hydraulic systems for tractors and trailers and has already developed innovative solutions such as the two-line trailer brake valve.

Key competences in the field of electromobility

“Society’s call for more electromobility and sustainability also demands a change in the special vehicle segments in which we operate. We are proud to help shape this change and to develop pioneering studies such as the Hybrid Power Chassis and the Green Trailer Platform. Our chassis platforms as adaptable system carriers and our axle systems for electric vehicles are also in demand. Furthermore, we help partners with industrialisation all the way to series production – such as in our E-Factory. Electric vehicles for ABT e-Line are produced there, for example,” explains Erwin Gentner, Managing Director of Alois Kober GmbH.

 

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A success story: 90 Years AL-KO Vehicle Technology