If you’ve read the first part to this story you will have an idea of how much these guys are into cars. Obviously as a business they need to turn a profit but you get the feeling when touring the KW factory that everything is secondary to customer satisfaction and creating the absolute best product. Everybody we met on our visit were all true petrolheads, guys and girls that were genuinely interested in all aspects of motoring. When they talk about their products they always speak about how the customer deserves the best. At first it sounded like marketing spiel, but when you spend nearly a week with these guys it’s obvious they do care about the quality of the end product.
KW use stainless steel on their ‘inox-line’ of coilovers, which makes the units highly corrosion resistant, gives them a higher load tolerance and allows them to remain pretty much identical to the day they were fitted.
The start of the production line see’s the stainless steel tubing to be cut into the appropriate lengths for the strut casing.
All the necessary fabrication work is done at this end. Here the strut casings, pistons etc are created before being shipped across the way to the start of the assembly line.
Each set of coilovers are manufactured to the specifications of each customer. As each unit is moved down the line, it has it’s own barcode which tell’s each engineer what specification the end product needs to be.
This is where the dampers are assembled, again each damper is to a specific customers requirements.
Once the dampers are completed they move back downstairs where the final assembly stage begins. These towers allow the staff to input the part number into a small computer and it automatically finds and brings the user the exact part without having to go searching for it.
These are the bumpstops KW use on their products. When people lower their cars, they often cut the bump stops to allow more suspension travel. KW’s bumpstops actually compress so there is no need to modify them when the vehicle is lowered.
From here the final unit is assembled, again to each customers requirements. Around 250 units are built each day, which equates to around 65,000 units a year.
This is the warehouse were parts are stored before being assembled.
Here we see some KW product that’s ready to ship. Asides from their own brand, KW are also responsible for ST Suspension, Weitec and Belltech amongst others. They are even responsible for other reputable suspension manufacturers products …
So you’ve just designed a new suspension set up for a brand new car and it’s never been tested before. How do you check it works before putting it into production ? KW have their own seven post test rig, one of only 15 in the world.
The rig is usually exclusively used by F1 teams, as it has the ability to perfectly replicate the conditions of a race circuit to allow the highest level of suspension tuning and development. KW are the only suspension manufacturer in Germany with this facility.
The rig consists of seven posts and can be used in four post mode or the full seven post mode. Four actuators are located at the wheels and the other three can be used to control the action of the vehicle structure.
The four times 24 hour Nurburgring winning Manthey Porsche was fine tuned atop this equipment, along with some of KW’s industry partners cars like the Gumpert Apollo.
Here the KW crew are checking the suspension in this Subaru Legacy that was recently fitted with KW coilovers to ensure the owner will get the best possible setup and ride. They have placed 1.5 tons of weight in the boot to measure the compression and camber of the suspension units under heavy load.
Even with the weight of another car in the rear, the suspension hasn’t bottomed out nor have the springs become coilbound. You might think with that sort of a setup that it’s a very harsh and solid ride but nothing could be further from the truth. Klaus Wohlfarth explained to us that to get a smoother ride and better handling KW use SOFTER springs with a stiffer damper. After having the pleasure of driving two Evo X’s back to back, these guys know exactly what they are doing. The ride in the Evo with KW handled better and smoother than the Evo on standard suspension.
Even after the product has been manufactured, the team are always looking for ways to improve their products. However, this guy appears to be slacking off and what’s worse, he’s not even reading Speedhunters, tut tut.
On proud display in the visitor area, KW have put six suspension units that have been treated to 480 hours in a special salt water corrosion tank that simulates the effect of, well, salt water on the units. The two on the right are KW inox-line models whilst the others are reputable competitors.
This is almost the end of the KW experience, but before we finish up the series, I’m going to have to bring you guys what it’s like to drive a 600HP GT-R and a fettled Evo X back to back …
I’d just like to say a huge thanks to Klaus W, Klaus F, Melanie, Oliver and Jay from KW for their outstanding hospitality through out the duration of my stay in Germany. You guys were absolutely fantastic hosts and I look forward to meeting you all again in the future.