Author: Uroš Rosa, CEO, Akrapovič
Responding to consumer demand for a sporty roar within regulatory guidelines has led to a new period of innovation in the field of vehicle exhaust systems
Car designs have changed dramatically over the past few decades. From the boxy cars of the 80s to the sleek, lightweight vehicles of today, car owners continue to take pride in the appearance and performance of their cars, often customising vehicles to suit their personal tastes. And, as tastes have changed and technology has advanced, the automotive aftermarket industry has been boomed. While in the past, drivers sought to enhance their vehicles by upgrading the wheels or in-car entertainment system, now they are beginning to prioritise exhaust systems in their customisation demands.
For drivers looking to combine enhanced performance with a quality, sporty sound, there is only one place to turn. Founded in 1991 by former motorcycle racer Igor Akrapovič, Slovenia’s Akrapovič has grown steadily from its humble beginnings, becoming one of the most trusted and well-loved brands in the competitive exhaust industry. Now employing more than 1,000 highly skilled employees, Akrapovič manufactures some of the most technically advanced exhaust systems in the world, uniting performance enhancement with sleek design and an iconic, deeply resonant sound.
“Our products are, above all, high performance”, said Akrapovič CEO Uroš Rosa. “They are always designed with the top priorities of enhancing performance, producing better sound, reducing weight and giving the driver and rider an overall better experience.”
As customer tastes continue to evolve, Akrapovič’s uniquely innovative vision has allowed the company to adapt accordingly, employing cutting-edge technology and quality materials to produce premium exhaust systems. With interest in enhanced exhaust systems now on the rise, Akrapovič is racing ahead of the competition.
At the very heart of Akrapovič’s mission lies a passion for cutting-edge materials and techniques. Since the earliest days of the company, innovation has been the key to the company’s success, with a dedicated team of engine enthusiasts constantly working on the next breakthrough in exhaust design.
In order to ensure the highest quality of products and materials, over 95 percent of Akrapovič products are manufactured in-house by a passionate and talented workforce. In 2009, Akrapovič took its commitment to innovation one step further, successfully opening its own in-house titanium foundry. The company uses titanium as the basic raw material for most of its motorcycle and automobile products, due to its lightness, strength and durability. Indeed, Akrapovič’s titanium alloys are three times stronger than other commercial alloys available on the market, and also have significantly more heat resistance than their alternatives. What’s more, titanium is 40 percent lighter than stainless steel, which helps to improve vehicle performance and handling, through lowering the weight and changing the power-to-weight ratio.
As customer tastes continue to evolve, Akrapovič’s uniquely innovative vision has allowed the company to adapt accordingly
As of today, Akrapovič remains the world’s only exhaust system manufacturer with its own in-house titanium foundry, putting the company one step ahead of its competitors. In addition to this on-site foundry, Akrapovič also boasts a fully equipped metallurgical laboratory, where workers are able to test the material properties and quality of products. This on-site testing allows the Akrapovič team to discover better materials, which can then be directly put to use in new products. With over 25 years of experience in testing materials and tweaking designs for optimum power and performance, innovation is truly at the forefront of Akrapovič’s operations.
“In the past four years, we have implemented some innovative products”, said Rosa. “We have been focusing on the ultra-light design of components, cast components, and the light design of the exhaust itself. In the end, our milestone projects have served as a statement of what we are capable of, and proof of how the organisation has evolved over the years.”
One of Akrapovič’s standout products of recent years has been its phenomenally successful system with an ‘X-connection’ component. Manufactured using titanium from Akrapovič’s in-house foundry, the X-connection component is designed to ensure optimal sound and performance. The system’s valve flap offers three different sound settings, allowing drivers to customise their vehicle’s sound to suit each drive.
For auto aficionados, the powerful sound of a well-designed, high-performance engine is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Over the years, exhaust system manufacturers have developed their own unique sounds, tweaking noise, vibration and harshness in order to achieve the perfect pitch. These varied engine sounds can profoundly influence a customer’s decision when choosing a new sports car or motorcycle.
With customers chasing this ear-catching rumble, exhaust system manufacturers are beginning to prioritise sound engineering in their development process. At Akrapovič, curating the perfect sound is a complex process, involving a number of hi-tech measurement techniques. Sound engineers carry out multiple spectral analyses, determining how the car’s acoustics might be tweaked or improved. However, while Akrapovič engineers have succeeded in carefully crafting an unmistakable sound for the brand, the team is now facing a fresh set of challenges.
In recent years, the EU has begun to adjust homologation standards on its roads. “We now have the challenge of delivering a proper sporty sound within the limits of these new, stricter regulations”, said Rosa. “People still want to drive with that sporty feeling and that sporty sound, so sound regulations have become a big challenge for us.”
In order to meet these demands, Akrapovič has developed exhaust systems that comply with noise regulations while still delivering the growling, impressive sound that customers have grown to expect from their products. The demand for these regulation compliant exhausts has proved particularly strong in Europe, but Akrapovič expects to see interest pick up in the wider world as similar noise-related laws are introduced.
Far outpacing its competitors in the industry, Akrapovič has earned its reputation as a highly trusted, premium brand, showing an unwavering commitment to quality over the course of its 26-year history. Starting life as the brainchild of a motorcycle racer, the company has been driven by a passion for performance since its inception. In its early days, Akrapovič’s technically advanced exhaust systems won the brand many loyal supporters in the racing business, enabling the company to grow into the industry titan it is today.
“Even if we look back to just four years ago, we can see that many things have changed at Akrapovič”, said Rosa. “We have grown in terms of revenue, profitability and employees. When you have 1,000 employees, you simply cannot operate in the same manner as with two or three hundred people, and our organisational structure has changed to reflect this.”
As these organisational shifts continue, 2017 is shaping up to be an exciting year for the brand. Looking forward, Akrapovič is focused on implementing new technologies and exploring new directions, in the hope of further enhancing its premium products. And yet, while innovation takes centre stage at Akrapovič, the brand still remains committed to its founder’s core values.
“Hard work, honesty and respect for others – these are the true values of the company”, said Rosa. “At Akrapovič