Valeo's wiper product family includes all types of front and rear wiper systems, for both OE and the aftermarket. Here, Matthew Beecham talked with company executives about how its replacement wiper blade business is organised as well as notable market trends.

How do you organise your blades in terms of market positioning? i.e. do you have a range of standard blades, premium blades and maybe super-premium blades?

Valeo has a strong OE know-how in the entire wiper system, which consists of blade, motor and linkage. These products are present at every key OEM in the world. But Valeo is not only an OE specialist as we have strong aftermarket know-how.

For the aftermarket, Valeo offers different brands and ranges according to the geographic perimeter, sales channel and market segmentation.  Whatever your need, Valeo is able to offer a recognised brand that fits your requirements.

For Valeo, a premium brand means:

  • OE top quality with a unique test protocol for product validation
  • Optimal park coverage with time to market approach
  • Innovation with the flat blade retrofit range or wear indicator
  • Dedicated marketing programme: catalogue, posters, Time To Market programme, displays and dedicated videos.

For the premium segment Valeo offers the Valeo Silencio range. Valeo Silencio is a reflection of Valeo's technological knowledge in wiper systems. It is OE quality sold in Europe. It covers the complete technology offer, including a new hybrid blade range called HBlade. It combines elements of a conventional wiper blade and a flat blade. This technology with its distinctive design is becoming a frequent choice for vehicle manufacturers whose models are based on Asian platforms. The Silencio HBlade is consists of four specific kits for a car parc of more than 3 million vehicles in Europe.

The Valeo Silencio range is split into three segments:

  • the Silencio standard range is comprised of universal conventional blades that provides large coverage with few part numbers;
  • the Silencio performance range contains specific singles and kits with or without spoilers, curved blades and blades with washer ramps;
  • the Silencio X.trm range caters for vehicles equipped with Flat Blades in OE. The Silencio X.trm range also includes rear Flat Blades.

Today, the Valeo Silencio  range covers 98 percent of vehicles in the European car parc.

As a complement to its premium range, Valeo has also developed tailor made aftermarket ranges like Valeo Compact. It is an established alternative offer that has been developed specifically for the aftermarket. Valeo Compact benefits are a short range, and hence a high rotation per reference and the Valeo branding as an indication of quality.

Since its introduction in 2002, Valeo Compact has been sold successfully across Europe and Africa.

In 2012, the introduction of four specific rear blades and the launch of the new Valeo Compact Evolution x1 - range, accompanied by a new catalogue, has been a big success.

In addition, this range includes the Compact Revolution range allowing upgrade from conventional wiper blades to flat blade technology.

To what extent are the flat blades impacting the aftermarket? i.e. to what extent are these blades attracting interest in the aftermarket as performance upgrades as well as a direct replacement for OE fit parts?

Flat blades are becoming a more and more significant product in the aftermarket and are used as a direct replacement for OE fit parts, but also as an option to upgrade from conventional blades. This way all drivers can benefit from the advantages of flat blade technology, which are an improved aerodynamic performance at high speed, noise reduction compared to conventional wiper blades and improved winter resistance.

Valeo proposes the Compact Revolution range as a popular upgrade solution. The benefits of Valeo Compact Revolution for the distributor is a high car parc coverage that is provided from a short range composed of only 9 p/n that covers 86 percent of the European car parc originally equipped with conventional blades.

Rear wiper blades appear to have reached "designer" status these days. In what ways does that impact your business in terms of the aftermarket?

In fact, rear blades are becoming more and more designer like since they seem to have the wiping arm integrated into the blade.  It is also important to note that more and more car manufacturers are today even offering flat blades for the rear.

In line with the strategy to offer OE products in terms of design and quality to the aftermarket, specific rear blades (conventional blades and Flat Blades) form an indispensable part of the Valeo wiping offer.

The Valeo Silencio® offer has today 31 specific rear blades (19 conventional blades, and 12 Flat Blades contained in the Silencio X.trm offer). Four specific rear blades can also be found in the Compact range.

Drivers do not always replace their blades as often as they should.  What initiatives have Valeo done to raise awareness and ensure they do?

The remainder of this interview is available on just-auto's QUBE research service