Supashock takes aim at the LCV aftermarket, as Stuart Martin reports
Adelaide-based damper maker, Supashock, has ventured out of the motorsport pit lane and into the wider automotive market to make dampers and suspension systems for mainstream machinery.
The South Australian owned and operated company – that has made a name for itself within motorsport circles – expects to have a range of dampers in the market early next year for a wide range of 4WD and commercial vehicles, including many of the models on offer in the burgeoning LCV utility segment.
Managing director, Oscar Fiorinotto, is acutely aware of the demand for aftermarket suspension systems to improve load-carrying prowess while not eroding ride comfort and useability.
“That’s where we are looking. Now we’re working on an over-3.5-tonne GVM upgrade pack that we are looking to develop for distribution next year. That’s a big focus because we understand that’s a big part of the market.
Mr. Fiorinotto said the dampers were built using aerospace grade aluminium and steel, with shaft diameters ranging from 45 mm in the front to 68 mm in the rear, developing a suspension system that upgrades load-carrying capacity without just beefing up the springs and ignoring the dampers.
“We’ve used our in-house technology to develop a product at an achievable price. We can offer much lighter springs in these, but they maintain the ride height under load, a result of the big cylinder system that has a pneumatic air pressure effect that keeps the car level,” he said.
The company has manufacturing partners in Adelaide and is also utilising Queensland-based manufacturer King Springs for some of its coils and leaf components. But it’s the dampers (which will be price-competitive with the current ARB opposition product) that bring motorsport technology to the road that is of interest.
“Our system that you see here is unlike anything you’ll see anywhere else. It enables the car to be a lot softer in terms of ride suppleness. The system has been developed with the technology not seen before (on this category of application). Our front spring system is progressive and a big-diameter robust system but with bump control and ride quality.”
“We believe we achieved a damper with exceptional ride and handling, especially when undergoing a change of direction, and we believe it will be successful,” he said.
Current production rates are small – 500 units annually – but the brand is ramping up to a 2000-unit production rate.
With support from state and federal authorities, Supashock is aiming to expand into new premises, hire from the automotive workforce made redundant by the halt in local car manufacturing, and be able to build between 5000 and 10,000 units a year.
The company is also working on airbag applications to further aid load-carrying and towing applications, including the possibility of a self-contained “plug and go” unit, but its efforts at applying its industrial active suspension technology to the automotive sector is also promising.
The Supashock active suspension system is currently designed for use in trains and other industrial equipment, but the company is aiming to deliver an automotive application that controls body roll, maintains ride height under load and delivers good ride quality.
Supashock’s Jonathan Ireland said one of the system’s targets would be to iron out corrugations while carrying sensitive mining equipment.
“It’s a position-based system that maintains ride height. It also has a body control element as well. It’s used in non-automotive applications and we’re looking at more of those. We’re looking at a system that irons out corrugations for the mining industry’s sensitive equipment,” he said.
A short demonstration drive of the new passive damper product was offered, with standard and Supashock-equipped examples of the new Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger and Holden Colorado all independently certified as identical aside from the suspension components.
The track work involved a lane-change “swerve,” a long sweeping double-apex corner and an off-set bump test – none of the vehicles were laden, but the Supashock-equipped vehicles did exhibit better body control.
The turn-in from the steering was also more positive than the standard ute and the bump test was completed with improved ride comfort and far less kick from the rear end jumping sideways over the bumps. The Colorado’s improvement over the standard car in this test was the most marked.