When the Australian artist, Chris Heyring, created the first prototype of his Kinetic suspension, he could not have imagined the interest it would eventually create in the engineering divisions of some of the world’s leading auto manufacturers.
In the early days, Heyring concentrated on mating his unique suspension to 4WDs. Vehicles that (usually) necessitated a huge compromise between ride-comfort, on-road handling and off-road ability. The Kinetic suspension design does not require computers, motors or pumps. Yet, it can readily provide ride-height adjustment and load-leveling, and can be adapted to include (if required) active or semi-active controls.
For off-road enthusiasts, Kinetic suspension is a dream come true. It offers (the previously unimaginable) combination of maximum wheel articulation, level ride over extreme terrain, and much-improved on-road steering, handling and ride.
Many ‘interested’ global companies came knocking on Heyring’s door. But it was Tenneco, the American automotive conglomerate, that outlaid (reportedly) $50m for the Kenetic company in 1999. An exciting purchase for the future prospects of the world-wide distributors of Tenneco’s Monroe and Rancho suspension brands.
Yet, by 2006, the Kinetic design appears to have been ‘commercialized’ on just one mainstream 4WD vehicle; the up-market, US-only, version of the Lexus GX470 wagon.
Where Kinetic has really made its mark is in rallying. Citroen fitted it to its Xzara rally cars in 2003 and left the rest of the World Rally competitors eating dust. For Dakar, the world’s longest and most unforgiving motor sport event, Mitsubishi added Kinetic suspension to their (already) domineering desert racers and finished 1st and 2nd in 2004 and 2005.
However, for 2006, the enormous success of the Kenetic-equipped vehicles resulted in the organizers of the WRC and Dakar events banning all forms of interconnected sway-bar or damper systems. In other words: Kinetic suspension.
For 4WD enthusiasts, this could be good news. Perhaps Tenneco will now allocate more resources toward development of Kinetic suspension for current-model SUVs. A Jeep Rubicon Kinetic would be a great way to start.
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