Auria’s jackpot potential: Acoustic material

Auria Solutions’ new sound and vibration deadening material cuts 13 pounds from a vehicle’s weight.

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Auria Solutions has begun converting its 10 North American plants to supply a new type of sound and vibration deadening material for General Motors’ T1 full-size pickup and SUV platform.

The contract is one of the industry’s biggest, requiring Auria — the soft trim and vehicle acoustics business spun off last year by International Automotive Components — to produce more than 1.2 million of the large acoustics packages a year.

Auria CEO Brian Pour told Automotive News that the GM contract is just the beginning. Auria is also winning contracts to supply the material to other unidentified North American auto programs and is in talks with European customers about it.

Auria had the technology ace up its sleeve last year when the company recapitalized as a spinoff, with China’s Shanghai Shenda Co. taking a 70 percent ownership stake and IAC retaining 30 percent.

The new approach, developed before the spinoff at Auria’s r&d center in Albemarle, N.C., delivers a weight reduction of 13 pounds per vehicle. It is also easier to make and easier to drop into vehicles on the assembly line, Pour said.

“Our old technology was the most robust, best performing noise-vibration-harshness product in the industry,” Pour said. “But that technology is now a thing of the past. All the OEMs now need to take weight out of the vehicle, and this is how we’re doing it.”

Pour: GM deal is just the start.

He said Auria is spending $100 million to retool its North American plants to produce the material. The conversion has enabled the company to automate its production to a greater degree, using only two line operators where it once needed nine, and to make its factories interchangeable. Any Auria production line can now produce any model of the package, he said.

Previously, the supplier used an ethylene vinyl acetate dash insulation. The new technology is a lighter-weight, multilayer, fiber-based material.

The new approach was not developed with pickups in mind. Auria is mainly a supplier to luxury cars. Mercedes-Benz and BMW are two of its biggest customers worldwide. Luxury vehicles have been more tolerant of heavy component weight, and Auria was seeking a way to create a lighter sound and vibration system to woo luxury customers.

GM is Auria’s first customer for the new technology. The packages will arrive at the automaker’s assembly lines as complete acoustic modules that GM line workers can drop into place.

Pour declined to say whether the technology conversion will continue across Auria’s other 19 plants around the world. He said it will depend on whether non-North American customers opt for the change.

But he said industry electrification will be a factor in the material’s success.

“As you move into more electrification, weight is more critical,” he said. “Every OEM wants it lighter and cheaper.”

Auria had global sales to automakers of $1.1 billion last year, and is targeting sales of $2 billion by 2020.

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