Born in 1989 and celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, the micronAir cabin air filter established an entirely new sector within the automotive industry. It has always been our fundamental mission to improve human health and wellbeing of passengers. 30 years of micronAir stand for product and service pioneering in cabin air filtration, but most importantly a close collaboration with our customers and partners.
As we celebrate this anniversary and stand on the verge of the new mobility revolution, we would like to thank you, our customers and business partners, for the trust you have placed in us and for the excellent cooperation that has enabled so many joint projects and successes. We look forward to our continued successful collaboration and shared growth. Let us continue to INNOVATE TOGETHER and begin to define the next breakthrough in driver and passenger comfort, health and safety.
Given that almost every vehicle today has a cabin air filter of some type, it is hard to believe there was ever a time when this vital product simply did not exist.
The world’s first production car to feature a cabin air filter as standard equipment on all models was the iconic 1989 Mercedes-Benz SL roadster. Within weeks, Freudenberg had received similar contracts from BMW, VW and Audi, albeit as special equipment. By 1991, the new Opel Astra was the first mass-market car to include the micronAir cabin air filter as standard, followed shortly afterwards by the VW Golf II. We had not only invented a whole new product: we had given birth to a new industry.
From the beginning, Freudenberg achieved a market leading position among OEMs and still retains that status today. After the concept had been proved by the Mercedes project and on a smaller scale at VW and others, the series equipment of the Astra was really the break-through for Freudenberg. The great health benefits offered by this revolutionary product were now made available to the mass population. The speed at which this new sector developed was astonishing. In 1989, Freudenberg produced 35,000 of its new micronAir filters. By 1993, we were shipping 3.6 million units a year.
“Before our development, the vehicle filtration systems had focused exclusively on the engine. From the beginning, it was our first customer’s and our fundamental mission to improve human health and wellbeing that inspired the change in focus from the engine to the people inside the vehicle.” Barry Kellar, Global Vice President Automotive Filters
We really started from nothing. We had no market, no specifications to work with, no experience with the product, no internal organization and no way of manufacturing the actual filter units. But the team did have a very clear idea of how the cabin air filter would work and what its value would be to the automotive market and to vehicle users in particular. They also had an ambitious and far-sighted young engineer at Mercedes onside, who saw the potential too.
Once the Mercedes contract had been received, the team needed to move fast. Very fast. To meet the planned production schedules for the new SL, Freudenberg had to gear up from zero to series production in just six months. This required extraordinary efforts from the team. They needed to rapidly acquire expertise in injection molding, run production trials and enter small series production with no existing background or experience in this field. Having achieved that, the team subsequently brought the new product to full-scale mass production over the next 18 months.
As soon as the cabin air filter concept had secured a firm commercial footing, the innovations followed thick and fast.
Start a journey through 30 years of micronAir innovations.
Tracing 30 years of product development, it is clear that communication between Freudenberg, the automotive industry, air-conditioning manufacturers, research institutes, regulatory bodies and public interest groups has been a powerful driving force. Throughout the history of micronAir cabin air filters, there has been a constant interchange and exchange of ideas between the potential of the cabin air filter, public awareness of the need for increased protection, and the necessary innovation expertise and commitment to push the boundaries ever further. The original product development and sales teams were quick to recognize the importance of strategic communications in expanding and shaping the market for automotive cabin air filters.
“Our engineers, sales and marketing people all worked very closely together from the start. We knew that it was up to every team member to explain what the new cabin air filters could achieve and how they would protect people all over the world – besides adding value to our customers’ products.” Volker Bräunling, Regional Director Europe and part of the team from the beginning