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Tein Factory Tour - TEchnical INnovation

A visit to Tein reinforces its commitment to quality and performance.

Peter Tarach
Sep 5, 2013

A few years ago, a weird thing happened in the aftermarket coilover suspension market: People stopped caring about functional performance and instead focused on ride height adjustability.

There are more low cars driving around (or should I say scraping) than ever before, and that trend has brought a need for coilovers that can adjust ride height to standards that render them practically useless.

Introduce the ease of overseas manufacturing into the mix, and you quickly realize why there are an overwhelming number of coilover suspension systems on the market. With no need for actual performance-based results, one can manufacture a system with little or no R&D and sell it for a bargain price. Unfortunately, for companies like Tein that have built their brand on proven performance results both on and off the track, the cheap coilover market has an ill effect on its business.

So if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, right? Or that's what I heard on the Internet. Rumors of Tein coilovers not being made in Japan, rather in Thailand and China, were mentioned when opinions on the best coilovers were solicited. "They're all made in the same factory, so why should I pay more for just a name?"

When I went to Tokyo Auto Salon earlier this year, I wasn't planning on taking a trip over to Tein HQ, but when the opportunity arose, I couldn't pass it up, as I, too, was curious whether Tein had started outsourcing its coilovers. Finally, I could provide solid evidence and validate the Internet claims.

Tein in house coilovers finished coilovers Photo 2/16   |   Tein Factory Tour - TEchnical INnovation

What I saw was what I thought all along: Tein still manufactures its coilovers in-house, in Japan. From raw metal to the finished product, it's all done on location in Yokohama, so as usual, what is often taken as fact online is in reality fiction.

Actually seeing the process has reaffirmed to me that Tein is still as committed as ever to building quality, performance-driven coilovers. That's not to say the company has ignored emerging trends. To stay competitive, Tein is aware that it must meet the demands of all types of customers. So, it now has developed a line of coilovers called Street Basis that are valved properly and designed for low ride height while being affordable (around $700).

However, Tein also has a very innovative and new EDFC system for the serious performance-minded enthusiast. I had a firsthand look at the EDFC Active system, and it looks to be an innovative system for suspension tuning.

Upon initial inspection, the EDFC Active looks like the old EDFC system that allows easy damping force adjustments through a cockpit-mounted controller. While the Active is capable of this function, it also has the ability to automatically adjust the damping through the use of a G-sensor. It can control the front and back coilovers separately, according to acceleration and deceleration, resulting in better overall vehicle stability. The EDFC Active has a ton of cool features I won't get into here (we'll test the system in a proper tech article in the future), but it illustrates just one of the new technologies Tein is working on.

If you didn't already know, Tein stands for TEchnical INnovation, and having gotten an all-access pass to its facility has reassured me that it is very much the same company that I remember from many years past. Instead of taking the easier, more profitable path, Tein has stood behind its principles of designing, manufacturing, and testing quality suspension systems that are proven to perform on the street and at the track, and I can't help but admire that.

Tein in house coilovers raw metal Photo 3/16   |  
This is where a Tein coilover starts life, as a raw piece of metal.
Tein in house coilovers high quality CNC machine Photo 4/16   |  
High-quality CNC machines play a critical role in the manufacturing process of the coilovers.
Tein in house coilovers directions Photo 5/16   |   Tein Factory Tour - TEchnical INnovation
Tein in house coilovers small valves in shock body Photo 6/16   |  
Tein manufactures everything in house, right down to the smallest valves that go inside the shock body.
Tein in house coilovers pieces of a coilover Photo 7/16   |  
A lot of painstaking time and machining has to go into creating the many pieces of a coilover, but doing it in-house ensures excellent quality control.
Tein in house coilovers pieces of a coilover 02 Photo 8/16   |  
A lot of painstaking time and machining has to go into creating the many pieces of a coilover, but doing it in-house ensures excellent quality control.
Tein in house coilovers human elements in manufacturing Photo 9/16   |   Tein Factory Tour - TEchnical INnovation
Tein in house coilovers robotic elements in manufacturing Photo 10/16   |  
Both human and robotic elements maintain a high standard of excellence in the manufacturing process.
Tein in house coilovers coilover housing Photo 11/16   |  
Not only is the coilover housing built from raw materials, but the iconic green paint that Tein is known for is applied in-house.
Tein in house coilovers iconic green paint Photo 12/16   |  
Not only is the coilover housing built from raw materials, but the iconic green paint that Tein is known for is applied in-house.
Tein in house coilovers clean room for assembly Photo 13/16   |  
A clean room is where the final assembly of all the coilovers is performed.
Tein in house coilovers tein engineer inspecting Photo 14/16   |  
A Tein engineer inspects a piece of metal for fatigue, an all-important process to ensure top-tier quality in all of Tein’s suspension components.
Tein in house coilovers EDFC active Photo 15/16   |  
Tein’s new EDFC Active looks to be an innovative way to automatically control damping through g-force.
Tein in house coilovers machines testing tein coilvers performance Photo 16/16   |  
These are just a few of the many in-house designed machines that test Tein coilovers for durability, function, and performance.
By Peter Tarach
352 Articles

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