Financials (10-K)

Part I – Item 1. Business – Description of Our Business

Description of Our Business

We design, manufacture and sell emission control and ride control systems and products for light, commercial and specialty vehicle applications, and generated revenues of $7.2 billion in 2011. We serve both original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and replacement markets worldwide through leading brands, including Monroe®, Rancho®, Clevite® Elastomers, Marzocchi®, Axios™, Kinetic™, and Fric-Rot™ ride control products and Walker®, Fonos™, DynoMax®, Thrush™, and Lukey™ emission control products.

As a parts supplier, we produce individual component parts for vehicles as well as groups of components that are combined as modules or systems within vehicles. These parts, modules and systems are sold globally to most leading OEMs, commercial vehicle engine manufactures, and aftermarket distribution channels.

Overview of Automotive Parts Industry and Adjacent Markets
The vehicle parts industry is generally separated into two categories: (1) “original equipment” or “OE” in which parts are sold in large quantities directly for use by OEMs, commercial vehicle engine manufactures; and (2) “aftermarket” in which replacement parts are sold in varying quantities to wholesalers, retailers and installers. In the OE market, parts suppliers are generally divided into tiers — “Tier 1” suppliers that provide their products directly to OEMs, and “Tier 2” or “Tier 3” suppliers that sell their products principally to other suppliers for combination into the other supplier’s own product offerings.

The market for “light vehicles” is comprised of: (1) passenger cars and (2) light trucks which include sport-utility vehicles (SUV), crossover vehicles (CUV), pick-up trucks, vans and multi-purpose passenger vehicles. Demand for automotive parts in the OE light vehicle market is generally a function of the number of new vehicles produced, which in turn is a function of prevailing economic conditions and consumer preferences. In 2011, the number of light vehicles produced by region was 13.1 million in North America, 30.2 million in Europe, South America and India and 33.3 million in Asia Pacific. Worldwide light vehicle production is forecasted to increase to 79.6 million units in 2012 from approximately 76.6 million units in 2011, according to IHS Automotive. Although OE demand is tied to planned vehicle production, parts suppliers also have the opportunity to grow revenues by increasing their product content per vehicle, by further expanding business with existing customers and by serving new customers in existing or new markets. Companies with a global presence and advanced technology, engineering, manufacturing and support capabilities, such as our Company, are better positioned to take advantage of these opportunities.

The increase and expansion in mandated diesel emission control and noise regulations or standards through 2014 in North America, Europe, China, Japan, Brazil, Russia and India, have enabled suppliers such as us to serve customers beyond the light vehicle market. Certain automotive parts suppliers are now developing and producing components and integrated systems for the commercial market of medium- and heavy-duty trucks, buses, off-road equipment, and locomotive/marine applications as well as the recreational segment for two-wheelers and all-terrain vehicles. Tenneco foresees this market diversification as a source of future growth.

Demand for aftermarket products is driven by general economic conditions, the number of vehicles in operation, the age and distance driven of the vehicle fleet, and the average useful life and quality of vehicle parts. Although more vehicles are on the road than ever before, the aftermarket has experienced longer replacement cycles due to the improved quality of OE parts and increases in the average useful life of automotive parts as a result of technological innovation. Suppliers are increasingly being required to deliver innovative aftermarket products to drive increased aftermarket demand. Global economic downturns generally impact aftermarket sales less adversely than OE sales, as customers forego new vehicle purchases and keep their vehicles longer, thereby increasing demand for repair and maintenance services.

Industry Trends
As the dynamics of the markets we serve change, so do the roles, responsibilities and relationships of the participants. Key trends that we believe are affecting parts suppliers include:

General Economic Factors and Production Levels
The economic crisis in 2008 and 2009 materially and negatively impacted the automotive industry and our customers’ businesses in the U.S. and elsewhere. Automakers around the world experienced financial difficulties from a weakened economy, tightening credit markets, low consumer confidence, and reduced demand for their products. General Motors and Chrysler reorganized under bankruptcy protection in 2009, and other OE manufacturers took actions to improve profitability and remain solvent. The automotive supply base in turn also faced severe cash flow problems as a result of the significantly lower production levels of light vehicles, increased costs of certain raw materials, commodity and energy costs, and restricted access to additional liquidity through the capital markets. Consumers facing a weak job market and inadequate financing options were reluctant to purchase durable goods such as automobiles.

As a result of the lack of consumer confidence caused by the global economic downturn and credit market crisis, the industry experienced a rapid decline in light vehicle purchases in 2008 and the first half of 2009. The industry began to recover during the second half of 2009 when OE light vehicle production began to stabilize and then strengthen, as inventory levels began to be replenished, tracking more closely to vehicle sales. In 2010, light vehicle production continued to strengthen, evidenced by North America, Asia Pacific and Europe light vehicle production volumes increasing 39 percent, 30 percent and 16 percent, respectively in 2010 as compared to 2009. Production volumes continued to strengthen in 2011 in most geographic regions in which we operate. For example, production volumes in North America and Europe increased 10 percent and five percent, respectively, in 2011, though still not to the levels seen in recent history. The Asia Pacific region experienced a decline of two percent in production volumes as a result of a continued decline in industry production in Australia, and lower OE volumes in Thailand and Japan as a result of the flooding and earthquakes experienced in those regions in 2011.

Increasing Environmental Standards
OE manufacturers and their parts suppliers are designing and developing products to respond to increasingly stringent environmental requirements, growth in the diesel markets and increased demands for better fuel economy. Government regulations adopted over the past decade require substantial reductions in vehicle tailpipe emissions, longer warranties on parts of a vehicle’s pollution control equipment and additional equipment to control fuel vapor emissions. Manufacturers are responding with new technologies for gasoline- and diesel-fueled vehicles that minimize pollution and improve fuel economy.

As a leading supplier of emission control systems with strong technical capabilities, we believe we are well positioned to benefit from the more rigorous environmental standards being adopted around the world. We continue to expand our investment in regions such as China, India and Thailand to capitalize on growing demand for environmentally friendly solutions for light and commercial vehicles driven by environmental regulations in these regions.

To meet stricter air quality regulations, we have developed and sold diesel particulate filters (DPFs) for the Mercedes Benz Sprinter and BMW 1 and 3 series passenger cars in Europe and for GM Duramax engine applications, the Ford Super Duty, the Chrysler Ram, Navistar medium-duty trucks in North America, and off-road applications for Caterpillar and John Deere in Europe and North America. These particulate filters, coupled with converters, reduce emissions of particulate matter by up to 90 percent and of nitrogen oxide by up to 85 percent. In addition, we have development and production contracts for our selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems with light and medium-duty truck manufacturers in North America, South America, Europe and Asia. In China, we have development contracts for complete turnkey SCR systems, including the ELIM-NOx urea dosing technology acquired in 2007, now sold globally under the name XNOx™. Customers have also purchased prototypes of our hydrocarbon injector, a product acquired in 2007 alongside our XNOx™ technology, which is used to inject hydrocarbon directly into the exhaust system to regenerate diesel particulate filters and Lean NOx Traps. New regulations in the U.S. and European markets, which require reductions in carbon dioxide emissions and improvements in fuel economy, are creating increased demand for our fabricated manifolds, maniverters, integrated turbocharger/manifold modules, electronic exhaust valves, and lighter weight components. Lastly, for various off-road customers, we have developed emission aftertreatment systems designed to meet Tier 4A and Tier 4 final environmental regulations. Both on-road and off-road customers are embracing the concept of turnkey aftertreatment systems, where we have developed and sold both electronic aftertreatment electronic control units (ECUs) as well as the
related control software.

Increasing Technologically Sophisticated Content
As consumers continue to demand vehicles with improved performance, safety and functionality at competitive prices, the components and systems in these vehicles are becoming technologically more advanced and sophisticated. Mechanical functions are being replaced with electronics; and mechanical and electronic devices are being integrated into single systems. More stringent emission and other regulatory standards are increasing the complexity of the systems as well.

To remain competitive as a parts and systems supplier, we invest in engineering, research and development, spending $133 million in 2011, $117 million in 2010, and $97 million in 2009, net of customer reimbursements. In addition, we build prototypes and incur other costs on behalf of our customers to further our technological capabilities. Such expenses reimbursed by our customers totaled $119 million in 2011, $110 million in 2010, and $104 million in 2009. We also fund and sponsor university and other independent research to advance our emission control and ride control development.

By investing in technology, we can expand our product offerings and penetrate new markets. For example, we developed DPFs which were first sold in Europe and then offered in North America. Since these original innovations, we have developed T.R.U.E-Clean® with our partners, a product used to regenerate DPFs. We have also built prototypes of urea SCR systems for locomotive and marine engines. We expanded our suite of NOx-reduction technologies, developing prototypes of SCR systems using solid forms of ammonia as the reductant and a hydrocarbon lean NOx catalyst (HC-LNC for NOx reduction) that relies on hydrocarbons or other reductants instead of urea. For example, we are in a period of exclusive development with General Electric, utilizing their proprietary hydrocarbon lean NOx catalyst (HC-LNC for NOx reduction), and have multiple customers testing this system in Brazil. We successfully developed and sold fabricated manifolds, used only on gasoline engines, into the passenger car diesel segment. Recently, we developed and sold our first aftertreatment system for large engines, up to 4500 horsepower, used as line haul locomotives. On the ride control side of our business, we co-developed with �hlins Racing AB a continuously controlled electronic suspension system (CES) now offered by Volvo, Audi, Ford, VW and Mercedes Benz in their vehicles.

Enhanced Vehicle Safety and Handling
In 2009, with the adoption of Regulation No. 661/2009, Europe made electronic stability control (ESC) systems mandatory for all passenger cars and commercial vehicles being newly introduced to the market beginning in 2011. This regulation was further expanded to include all passenger cars and commercial vehicles (regardless of when the relevant car model was first approved for introduction into the market) beginning in November 2014. In addition, the U.S. made ESC systems mandatory by 2012 with the adoption of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 126 (FMVSS-126). OEMs, to serve the needs of their customers and meet government mandates, are seeking parts suppliers that invest in new technologies, capabilities and products that advance vehicle safety, such as roll-over protection systems, computerized electronic suspension, and safer, more durable materials. Those suppliers able to offer such innovative products and technologies have a distinct competitive advantage.

Tenneco co-developed with �hlins Racing AB, CES, and offers Kinetic® ride control technology to improve vehicle stability and handling. We also develop other advanced suspension systems like Actively Controlled Car (ACOCAR)™ that are being designed to provide improved vehicle safety and control. Further, we introduced premium Monroe® branded brakes to the aftermarket to further complement our product offerings in the aftermarket space. In addition to these efforts, we continue to promote the Safety Triangle™ of Steering-Stopping-Stability to educate consumers about the detrimental effect of worn shock absorbers on vehicle steering and stopping distances.

Outsourcing and Demand for Systems and Modules
OEMs have steadily outsourced more of the design and manufacturing of vehicle parts and systems to simplify the assembly process, lower costs and reduce development times. Furthermore, they have demanded fully integrated, functional systems made possible with the development of advanced electronics in addition to innovative, individual vehicle components and parts that may not readily interface together. As a result, successful parts suppliers offer a variety of component products individually as well as integrated modules and systems:

This shift towards fully integrated systems created the role of the Tier 1 systems integrator, a supplier responsible for executing a broad array of activities, including design, development, engineering, and testing of component parts, systems and modules. With more than a decade of experience as an established Tier 1 supplier, we have produced modules and systems for various vehicle platforms produced worldwide, supplying ride control modules for the Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, Chevrolet Malibu, Chevrolet Impala and Chevrolet Cruze and emission control systems for the Ford Super Duty, Ford Focus, Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, Chevrolet Malibu, Opel Astra, and VW Golf. In addition, we continue to design other modules and systems for platforms yet to be introduced to the global marketplace.

Global Reach of OE Customers
Changing market dynamics are driving OE manufacturers and their parts suppliers to expand their global reach:

Because of these trends, OE manufacturers are increasingly seeking suppliers capable of supporting vehicle platforms on a global basis. They want suppliers like Tenneco with design, production, engineering and logistics capabilities that can be accessed not just in North America and Europe but also in the developing markets.

Global Rationalization of OE Vehicle Platforms
OE manufacturers continue to standardize on “global platforms,” designing basic mechanical structures that are each suited for a number of similar vehicle models and able to accommodate different features for more than one region. Light vehicle platforms of over one million units are expected to grow from 42 percent to 51 percent of global OE production from 2011 to 2016.

With such global platforms, OE manufacturers realize significant economies of scale by limiting variations in items such as steering columns, brake systems, transmissions, axles, exhaust systems, support structures and power window and door lock mechanisms. The shift towards standardization can also benefit automotive parts suppliers. They can experience greater economies of scale, lower material costs, and reduced development costs.

Extended Product Life of Automotive Parts
The average useful life of automotive parts, both OE and replacement, has been steadily increasing in recent years due to technological innovations including longer-lasting materials. As a result, although there are more vehicles on the road than ever before, the global aftermarket has not kept pace with that growth. Accordingly, aftermarket suppliers have focused on reducing costs and providing product differentiation through advanced technology and recognized brand names. With our long history of technological innovation, strong brands and operational effectiveness, we believe we are well positioned to leverage our products and technology.

Changing Aftermarket Distribution Channels
From 2001 to 2011, the number of retail outlets supplying aftermarket parts increased significantly while the number of jobber stores declined 10 percent in the U.S. Major aftermarket retailers, such as AutoZone and Advance Auto Parts, attempted to expand their commercial sales by selling directly to parts installers, which had historically purchased from their local warehouse distributors and jobbers, as they continued to market to individual retail consumers. Retailers now have the option to offer premium brands which are often preferred by their commercial customers in addition to standard products which are often selected by their individual store buyers. We believe we are well positioned to respond to this trend because we continue to produce high-quality, premium brands and products. As distribution channels continue to consolidate, both wholesalers and retailers can realize the benefits of sourcing products from a supplier like Tenneco with our breadth of suspension and emissions control products.

Analysis of Revenues
The table below provides, for each of the years 2009 through 2011, information relating to our net sales and operating revenues, by primary product lines and customer categories.

    Net Sales  
Year Ended December 31,   2011     2010     2009  
(Millions)    
Emission Control Systems & Products                        
Aftermarket   $ 351     $ 318     $ 315  
Original Equipment                        
OE Value-add     2,732       2,223       1,638  
OE Substrate(1)     1,678       1,284       966  
      4,410       3,507       2,604  
      4,761       3,825       2,919  
Ride Control Systems & Products                        
Aftermarket     944       851       721  
Original Equipment     1,500       1,261       1,009  
      2,444       2,112       1,730  
Total Revenues   $ 7,205     $ 5,937     $ 4,649  

(1) See "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" included in Item 7 for a discussion of substrate sales.

Brands
In each of our operating segments, we manufacture and market products with leading brand names. Monroe® ride control products and Walker® exhaust products are two of the most recognized brands in the industry. We emphasize product value differentiation with brands such as Monroe®, Axios™ (suspension products), Kinetic™ and Fric-Rot™ (ride control products), DynoMax®, Thrush™ and Lukey™ (performance exhaust products), Rancho® (ride control products for the high performance light truck market), Clevite® Elastomers (noise, vibration and harshness control components), and Marzocchi® (forks and suspensions for the two-wheeler market).

Customers
We have developed long-standing business relationships with our customers around the world. In each of our operating segments, we work collaboratively with our customers in all stages of production, including design, development, component sourcing, quality assurance, manufacturing and delivery. With a diverse mix of OE and aftermarket products and facilities in major markets worldwide, we believe we are well positioned to meet customer needs. We believe we have a strong, established reputation with customers for providing high-quality products at competitive prices, as well as for timely delivery and customer service.

Worldwide we serve more than 64 different OEMs and Commercial Vehicle engine manufacturers, and our products are included on nine of the top 10 passenger car models produced for sale in Europe and nine of the top 10 light truck models produced for sale in North America for 2011.

During 2011, our OEM and Commercial Vehicle engine manufacturer customers included:

North America   Europe   Asia

AM General
Caterpillar
Club Car
Daimler AG
E-Z Go
Fiat-Chrysler
Fiat Industrial (CNH)
Ford Motor
General Motors
Harley-Davidson
Honda Motor
Hyundai Motor
John Deere
Navistar International
Nissan Motor
Oshkosh Truck
Paccar
Toyota Motor
Volkswagen Group
Volvo Global Truck

 

AvtoVAZ
BMW
Caterpillar
Daimler AG
Deutz AG
Ducati Motor
Fiat-Chrysler
Fiat Industrial (Iveco)
Ford Motor
Geely Automobile
General Motors
Harley-Davidson
John Deere
Mazda Motor
McLaren Automotive
Nissan Motor
Paccar
Porsche
PSA Peugeot Citroën
Renault
Suzuki Motor
Tata Motors
Toyota Motor
Volkswagen Group
Volvo Global Truck

 

Beijing Automotive
BMW
Brilliance Automobile
Changan Automotive
Daimler AG
Dongfeng Motor
Ducati Motor
First Auto Works
Ford Motor
Geely Automobile
General Motors
Great Wall Motor
Hyundai Motor
Isuzu Motors
Jiangling Motors
Nissan Motor
SAIC Motor Corp.
Suzuki Motor
Volkswagen Group
Weichai Power

 
Australia   South America   India

Club Car
Fiat Industrial (Iveco)
Ford Motor
General Motors
Mazda Motor
Toyota Motor

 

Daimler AG
Fiat-Chrysler
Fiat Industrial (Iveco)
Ford Motor
General Motors
MAN SE
Navistar International
Nissan Motor
PSA Peugeot Citroën
Renault
Toyota Motor
Volkswagen Group
Volvo Global Truck

 

Club Car
E-Z Go
Fiat-Chrysler
Ford Motor
General Motors
Isuzu Motor
Mahindra & Mahindra
Nissan Motor
Suzuki Motor
Tata Motors
Toyota Motor
Volkswagen Group

The following customers accounted for 10 percent or more of our net sales in any of the last three years.

Customer   2011     2010     2009
General Motors     19 %     19 %     16 %
Ford     15 %     13 %     14 %

During 2011, our aftermarket customers were comprised of full-line and specialty warehouse distributors, retailers, jobbers, installer chains and car dealers. These customers included National Auto Parts Association (NAPA), Advance Auto Parts, Uni-Select, and O’Reilly Automotive in North America, Temot Autoteile GmbH, Autodistribution International, Group Auto Union, Auto Teile Ring and AP United in Europe and Rede Presidente in South America. We believe our revenue mix is balanced, with our top 10 aftermarket customers accounting for 40 percent of our net aftermarket sales and our aftermarket sales representing 18 percent of our total net sales in 2011.

Competition
We operate in highly competitive markets. Customer loyalty is a key element of competition in these markets and is developed through long-standing relationships, customer service, high quality value-added products and timely delivery. Product pricing and services provided are other important competitive factors.

In both the OE light vehicle market and aftermarket, we compete with the vehicle manufacturers, some of which are also customers of ours, and numerous independent suppliers. In the OE market, we believe that we rank among the top two suppliers in certain key markets we serve throughout the world for both emission control and ride control products and systems for light vehicles. In the aftermarket, we believe that we are the market share leader in supplying emission control and ride control products for light vehicles in certain key markets we serve throughout the world.

Seasonality
Our OE and aftermarket businesses are somewhat seasonal. OE production is historically higher in the first half of the year compared to the second half. It decreases in the third quarter due to OE plant shutdowns for model changeovers, and softens in the fourth quarter due to reduced consumer demand for new vehicles during the holiday season and the winter months in North America and Europe generally. Our aftermarket operations, also affected by seasonality, experience relatively higher demand during the spring as vehicle owners prepare for the summer driving season.

While seasonality does impact our business, actual results may vary from the above trends due to global and local economic dynamics as well as industry-specific platform launches and other production-related events. During periods of economic recession, OE sales traditionally decline due to reduced consumer demand for automobiles and other capital goods. Aftermarket sales tend not to be as adversely affected during periods of economic downturn, as consumers forego new vehicle purchases and keep their vehicles longer, thereby increasing demand for repair and maintenance services. By participating in both the OE and aftermarket segments, we generally see a smaller revenue decline during economic downturns than the overall change in OE production.

During the recent global recession that began in 2008, seasonal OE plant closures were longer and more pronounced and aftermarket inventory levels remained leaner than normal. As the industry began to recover, the effects of seasonality were somewhat masked during the later half of 2009 through 2010, as OE sales and inventories improved from their depressed levels as consumers began spending again on the maintenance and repair of their vehicles. In 2011, our production of parts returned to our normal seasonal trend of higher OE volumes in the first half of the year and higher AM volumes in the spring and summer months.

Emission Control Systems
Vehicle emission control products and systems play a critical role in safely conveying noxious exhaust gases away from the passenger compartment and reducing the level of pollutants and engine exhaust noise emitted to acceptable levels. Precise engineering of the exhaust system — extending from the manifold that connects an engine’s exhaust ports to an exhaust pipe, to the catalytic converter that eliminates pollutants from the exhaust, and to the muffler that modulates noise and emissions — leads to a pleasant, tuned engine sound, reduced pollutants and optimized engine performance.

We design, manufacture and distribute a variety of products and systems designed to reduce pollution and optimize engine performance, acoustic tuning and weight, including the following:

For the catalytic converters we sell, we either buy completed catalytic converters systems or procure substrates coated with precious metals which we incorporate into full systems. We obtain these components and systems from third parties or directly from OE manufacturers, often at the OEM’s direction. See Item 7, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” for more information on our sales of these products.

We supply our emission control offerings to 28 light vehicle manufacturers for use on over 215 light vehicle models, including six of the top 10 passenger car models produced in Europe and six of the top 10 light truck models produced in North America for 2011. We also supply emission control products to 18 manufacturers of commercial vehicles and engines, and specialty vehicles including Harley-Davidson, BMW Motorcycle, Daimler Trucks, Navistar, Caterpillar, John Deere, Deutz and Weichai Power.

We entered the emission control market in 1967 with the acquisition of Walker Manufacturing Company, which was founded in 1888, and became one of Europe’s leading OE emission control systems suppliers with the acquisition of Heinrich Gillet GmbH & Co. in 1994. Throughout this document, the term “Walker” refers to our subsidiaries and affiliates that produce emission control products and systems.

In the aftermarket, we manufacture, market and distribute replacement mufflers for virtually all North American, European, and Asian light vehicle models under brand names including Quiet-Flow®, Tru-Fit® and Aluminox Pro™, in addition to offering a variety of other related products such as pipes and catalytic converters (Walker® Perfection). We also serve the specialty exhaust aftermarket with offerings that include Mega-Flow® exhaust products for heavy-duty vehicle applications and DynoMax® high performance exhaust products. We continue to emphasize product-value differentiation with other aftermarket brands such as Thrush® and Fonos™.

Ride Control Systems
Superior ride control is governed by a vehicle’s suspension system, including shock absorbers and struts. Shock absorbers and struts maintain the vertical loads placed on vehicle tires, helping keep the tires in contact with the road. Vehicle steering, braking, acceleration and safety depends on maintaining contact between the tires and the road. Worn shocks and struts can allow excess transfer of the vehicle’s weight — either from side to side which is called “roll;” from front to rear which is called “pitch;” or up and down, which is called “bounce.” Shock absorbers and struts are designed to control the vertical loads placed on tires and thereby provide resistance to vehicle roll, pitch and bounce. They function as safety components and provide a comfortable ride.

We design, manufacture and distribute a variety of ride control products and systems including:

We supply our ride control offerings to 22 light vehicle manufacturers for use on over 150 light vehicle models, including five of the top 10 passenger car models produced in Europe and nine of the top 10 light truck models produced in North America for 2011. We also supply ride control products and systems to over 40 commercial and specialty vehicle manufacturers including Volvo Truck, Scania, Navistar, Daimler Trucks and PACCAR.

In the ride control aftermarket, we manufacture, market and distribute replacement shock absorbers for virtually all North American, European and Asian light vehicle models under several brand names including Gas- Matic®, Sensa-Trac®, Monroe Reflex® and Monroe Adventure™, Quick-Strut®, as well as Clevite® Elastomers for elastomeric vibration control components. We also sell ride control offerings for the heavy-duty, off-road and specialty aftermarket, such as our Gas-Magnum® shock absorbers for the North American heavy-duty category and Marzocchi front forks for two-wheelers.

In the ride control aftermarket, we manufacture, market and distribute replacement shock absorbers for virtually all North American, European and Asian makes of light vehicles under several brand names including Gas Matic®, Sensa-Trac®, Monroe Reflex® and Monroe Adventure™, as well as Clevite® Elastomers for elastomeric vibration control components. We also sell ride control offerings for the heavy-duty, non-road and specialty aftermarket, such as our Gas-Magnum® shock absorbers for the North American heavy-duty category and Marzocchi® front forks for two-wheelers.

We entered the ride control product line in 1977 with the acquisition of Monroe Auto Equipment Company, which was founded in 1916, and introduced the world’s first modern tubular shock absorber in 1930. When the term “Monroe” is used in this document it refers to our subsidiaries and affiliates that produce ride control products and systems.

Financial Information About Geographic Areas
Refer to Note 11 of the consolidated financial statements of Tenneco Inc. included in Item 8 of this report for financial information about geographic areas.

Sales, Marketing and Distribution
We have separate and distinct sales and marketing efforts for our OE and aftermarket businesses.

For OE sales, our sales and marketing team is an integrated group of professionals, including skilled engineers and program managers, who are organized by customer and product type (e.g., ride control and emission control). Our sales and marketing team provides the appropriate mix of operational and technical expertise needed to interface successfully with the OEMs. Our new business “capture process” involves working closely with the OEM platform engineering and purchasing teams. Bidding on OE automotive platforms typically encompasses many months of engineering and business development activity. Throughout the process, our sales team, program managers and product engineers assist the OE customer in defining the project’s technical and business requirements. A normal part of the process includes our engineering and sales personnel working on customers’ integrated product teams, and assisting with developing component/system specifications and test procedures. Given that the OE business involves long-term production contracts awarded on a platform-by-platform basis, our strategy is to leverage our engineering expertise and strong customer relationships to target and win new business and increase operating margins.

For aftermarket sales and marketing, our sales force is generally organized by customer and region and covers multiple product lines. We sell aftermarket products through four primary channels of distribution: (1) the traditional three-step distribution system of full-line warehouse distributors, jobbers and installers; (2) the specialty two-step distribution system of specialty warehouse distributors that carry only specified automotive product groups and installers; (3) direct sales to retailers; and (4) direct sales to installer chains. Our aftermarket sales and marketing representatives cover all levels of the distribution channel, stimulating interest in our products and helping our products move through the distribution system. Also, to generate demand for our products from end-users, we run print and television advertisements and offer pricing promotions. We offer business-to-business services to customers with TA-Direct, an on-line order entry and customer service tool. In addition, we maintain detailed web sites for each of Walker®, Monroe®, Rancho®, DynoMax®, Monroe brake brands and our heavy-duty products.

 

Manufacturing and Engineering
We focus on achieving superior product quality at the lowest operating costs possible using productive, reliable and safe manufacturing processes to achieve that goal. Our manufacturing strategy centers on a lean production system called the Tenneco Manufacturing System (TMS), that is designed to eliminate waste, develop skills, share best practices and lead our manufacturing enterprise to reduce overall costs, while maintaining quality standards and reducing manufacturing cycle time. As part of TMS, we use Six Sigma techniques both in manufacturing and design to minimize product defects and improve operational efficiencies. We deploy new technology to differentiate our products from our competitors and to achieve higher quality and productivity. We continue to adapt our capacity to customer demand, both expanding capabilities in growth areas as well as reallocating capacity away from segments in decline.

Emission Control
Our consolidated businesses operate 11 emission control manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and 46 emission control manufacturing facilities outside of the U.S. We operate 16 of these international manufacturing facilities through joint ventures in which we hold a controlling interest. We operate five emission control engineering and technical facilities worldwide and share two other such facilities with our ride control operations. In addition, two joint ventures in which we hold a noncontrolling interest operate a total of two manufacturing facilities outside the U.S.

Within each of our emission control manufacturing facilities, operations are organized by component (e.g., muffler, catalytic converter, pipe, resonator and manifold). Our manufacturing systems incorporate cell-based designs, allowing work-in-process to move through the operation with greater speed and flexibility. We continue to invest in plant and equipment to stay competitive in the industry. For instance, in our Smithville, Tennessee, OE manufacturing facility, we have developed a muffler assembly cell that utilizes laser welding. This allows for quicker change-over times in the process as well as less material used and less weight for the product. There is also a reduced cycle time compared to traditional joining and increased manufacturing precision for superior durability and performance. In 2007, we introduced the Measured and Matched Converter technique in North America. This allows us to maintain the optimum GBD (Gap Bulk Density) in our converter manufacturing operations with Tenneco proprietary processing. This process, coupled with cold spinning of the converter body, versus traditional cone to can welding, allows for more effective use of material through reduced welding, lower cost, and better performance of the product. In 2009, we introduced low-cost fabricated diesel manifolds in Europe which utilize advanced manufacturing processes such as deep drawing, laser welding, and furnace brazing.

To strengthen our position as a Tier 1 OE systems supplier, we have developed some of our emission control manufacturing operations into “just-in-time” or “JIT” systems. In this system, a JIT facility located close to our OE customer’s manufacturing plant receives product components from both our manufacturing operations and independent suppliers, and then assembles and ships products to the OEMs on an as-needed basis. To manage the JIT functions and material flow, we have advanced computerized material requirements planning systems linked with our customers’ and supplier partners’ resource management systems. We have three emission control JIT assembly facilities in the United States and 23 throughout the rest of the world.

Our engineering capabilities include advanced predictive design tools, advanced prototyping processes and state-of-the-art testing equipment. These technological capabilities make us a “full system” integrator to the OEMs, supplying complete emission control systems from the manifold to the tailpipe, to provide full emission and noise control. We expanded our engineering capabilities with the 2007 acquisition of Combustion Component Associates’ ELIM-NOx, mobile emission technology, now sold globally under the XNOx™ name, that includes urea and hydrocarbon injection, and electronic controls and software for selective catalytic reduction. We also offer a complete suite of alternative full system NOx aftertreatment technologies, including the Hydrocarbon Lean NOx Catalyst (HC-LNC) technology under joint development with General Electric, and SOLID SCR™ technology licensed from FEV, a powertrain development and engineering company based in Germany. We also developed advanced predictive engineering tools, including KBM&E (Knowledge Based Manufacturing & Engineering). The innovation of our KBM&E (which we call TEN-KBM&E) is a modular toolbox set of CAD embedded applications for manufacturing and engineering compliant design. The encapsulated TEN-KBM&E content is driven by an analytical method which continuously captures and updates the knowledge of our main manufacturing and engineering processes. Our global engineering capabilities are standardized through the use of the ATLAS Global PDM (Product Data Management) system, enabling a more efficient transfer of knowledge around the world.

 

Ride Control
Our consolidated businesses operate seven ride control manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and 23 ride control manufacturing facilities outside the U.S. We operate two of these international facilities through joint ventures in which we hold a controlling interest. We operate seven engineering and technical facilities worldwide and share two other such facilities with our emission control operations.

Within each of our ride control manufacturing facilities, operations are organized by product (e.g., shocks, struts and vibration control products) and include computer numerically controlled and conventional machine centers; tube milling and drawn-over-mandrel manufacturing equipment; metal inert gas and resistance welding; powdered metal pressing and sintering; chrome plating; stamping; and assembly/test capabilities. Our manufacturing systems incorporate cell-based designs, allowing work-in-process to move through the operation with greater speed and flexibility.

To strengthen our position as a Tier 1 OE module supplier, we have developed some of our manufacturing operations into JIT systems. We have two JIT ride control facilities outside the U.S.

In designing our shock absorbers and struts, we use advanced engineering and test capabilities to provide product reliability, endurance and performance. Our engineering capabilities feature advanced computer-aided design equipment and testing facilities. Our dedication to innovative solutions has led to such technological advances as:

Conventional shock absorbers and struts generally compromise either ride comfort or vehicle control. Our innovative grooved-tube, gas-charged shock absorbers and struts provide both ride comfort and vehicle control, resulting in improved handling, reduced vibration and a wider range of vehicle control. This technology can be found in our premium quality Sensa-Trac® shock absorbers. We further enhanced this technology by adding the SafeTech™ fluon banded piston, which improves shock absorber performance and durability. We introduced the Monroe Reflex® shock absorber, which incorporates our Impact Sensor™ device. This technology permits the shock absorber to automatically switch in milliseconds between firm and soft compression, damping when the vehicle encounters rough road conditions, and thus maintaining better tire-to-road contact and improving handling and safety. We developed the Quick-Strut® which simplifies and shortens the installation of aftermarket struts. This technology combines the spring and upper mount into a single, complete module, eliminating the need for special tools and skills required previously. We have also developed an innovative computerized electronic suspension system, which features dampers developed by Tenneco and electronic valves designed by Öhlins Racing AB. The continuously controlled electronic suspension (“CES”) ride control system is featured on Audi, Volvo, Ford, VW, BMW, and Mercedes Benz vehicles.

Quality Control
Quality control is an important part of our production process. Our quality engineers establish performance and reliability standards in the product’s design stage, and use prototypes to confirm that the component/system can be manufactured to specifications. Quality control is also integrated into the manufacturing process, with shop operators responsible for quality control of their specific work product. In addition, our inspectors test work-in-progress at various stages to ensure components are being fabricated to meet customers’ requirements.

We believe our commitment to quality control and sound management practices and policies is demonstrated by our successful participation in the International Standards Organization/Technical Specifications certification process (“ISO/TS”). ISO/TS certifications are semi-annual or annual audits that certify that a company’s facilities meet stringent quality and business systems requirements. Without ISO or TS certification, we would not be able to supply our products for the aftermarket or the OE market, respectively, either locally or globally. All of our manufacturing facilities where we have determined that TS certification is required to serve our customers or would provide us with an advantage in securing additional business, have achieved ISO/TS 16949 certification.

 

Global Procurement Management
Our direct and indirect material costs represent a significant component of our cost structure. To ensure that our material acquisition process provides both a local and global competitive advantage, in addition to meeting regional legislative requirements, we have designed globally integrated standard processes which are managed by global teams of commodity specialists. Each global commodity strategy is tailored to regional requirements while leveraging our global scale to deliver the most cost effective
solutions at a local level.

Business Strategy
We strive to strengthen our global market position by designing, manufacturing, delivering and marketing technologically innovative emission control and ride control products and systems for OEMs and the aftermarket. We work toward achieving a balanced mix of products, markets and customers by capitalizing on emerging trends, specific regional preferences and changing customer requirements. We target both mature and developing markets for both light vehicle and commercial and specialty vehicle business. We further enhance our operations by focusing on operational excellence in all functional areas.

The key components of our business strategy are described below:

Develop and Commercialize Advanced Technologies

We develop and commercialize technologies that allow us to expand into new, fast-growing markets and serve our existing customers. By anticipating customer needs and preferences, we design advanced technologies that meet global market needs. For example, to meet the increasingly stringent emissions regulations being introduced around the world, we offer several technologies designed to reduce NOx emissions on passenger and commercial vehicles. This includes an integrated Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) system that incorporates our ELIM-NOx technology, now sold globally under the name XNOx™. We also offer a NOx absorber and are developing a hydrocarbon lean NOx catalyst system and a solid form of ammonia SCR system to address NOx emissions. Additionally, we offer thermal management solutions, including our T.R.U.E.-Clean® active diesel particulate filter system.

We expect available content per vehicle to continue to rise over the next several years. Advanced aftertreatment exhaust systems are required to comply with emissions regulations that affect light and commercial vehicles as well as off-road, locomotive and stationary engines. In addition, vehicle manufacturers, we believe, will offer greater comfort, handling and safety features by offering products such as electronic suspension and adjustable dampers. Our Continuously Controlled Electronic Suspension (CES) shock absorbers, which we co-developed with �hlins Racing AB, are now sold to Volvo, Audi, Mercedes, VW, and Ford, among others, and our engineered elastomers to manufacturers with unique requirements. Our newest electronic suspension product DRiV™, based on technology licensed from Sturman Industries, is the first industry example of digital valves for ride control products, thereby offering faster response, lighter weight, and reduced power consumption compared to existing analog products.

We continue to focus on developing highly engineered systems and complex assemblies and modules designed to provide value-added solutions to customers and increase vehicle content generally. Having many of our engineering and manufacturing facilities integrated electronically, we believe, has helped our products continue to be selected for inclusion in top-selling vehicles. In addition, our just-in-time and in-line sequencing manufacturing processes and distribution capabilities have enabled us to be more responsive to our customers’ needs.

Penetrate Adjacent Markets
We seek to penetrate a variety of adjacent markets and achieve growth in higher-margin businesses by applying our existing design, engineering and manufacturing capabilities. For example, we are aggressively leveraging our technology and engineering leadership in emission and ride control into adjacent markets for two-wheelers, heavy-duty trucks, buses, agricultural equipment, construction machinery and other commercial and specialty vehicles. Commercial vehicle emission control launches are currently underway and will ramp up in line with regulatory enforcement, for on- and off-road equipment in North America, Europe, China and South America. These customers include Caterpillar, for whom we are their global diesel emission control system integrator, as well as John Deere, Navistar, Deutz, Daimler Trucks, MAN SE, China National Heavy Truck Company, Shanghai Diesel Engine Company, Weichai Power, FAW, and YuChai. In addition, we continue to expand into new markets with new customers, including our most recently announced new emission control business with a commercial vehicle customer in Japan. Our 2010 and 2011 revenue generated by our commercial and specialty vehicle business was nine percent and 11 percent, of our total OE revenue, respectively. In 2008, we added the ride control products and technologies of Gruppo Marzocchi to our existing exhaust systems business for two-wheelers. In addition, we are evaluating and selectively pursuing retrofit opportunities which will allow us to penetrate new markets or expand our products in existing markets.

Expand in Developing Economies
We continue to expand our global footprint into growth regions around the world. In 2010, we opened wholly-owned emission control manufacturing facilities in Chennai, India and Guangzhou, China, and a ride control facility in Chonburi, Thailand. In addition, we opened new emission control facilities in Changchun, China and in Beijing, China as a result of our joint venture agreements with FAW Sihuan and Beijing Hainachuan Automotive Part Company Limited, respectively. In 2011 we relocated and expanded two plants in China and increased our investment in Thailand during the third quarter of 2011, by acquiring the remaining interest in our emission control joint venture. We continue to develop our Thailand footprint with the goal of using it as a base for our future operations in that region. As OEMs have expanded in the fast-growing markets of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and Thailand, we have followed, building our capabilities to engineer and produce locally cost-competitive and cutting-edge products, which has enabled us
to capture new business.

Maintain Our Aftermarket Leadership
We manufacture and market leading, brand-name products to a diversified and global aftermarket customer base. Two of the most recognized brand-name products in the automotive parts industry are our Monroe® ride control products and Walker® emission control products, which have been offered to consumers since the 1930s. We believe our brand equity in the aftermarket is a key asset especially as customers consolidate and distribution channels converge.

We provide value differentiation by creating product extensions bearing our various brands. For example, we offer Monroe Reflex® and Monroe® Sensa-Trac® shock absorbers, Walker® Quiet-Flow® mufflers, Rancho® ride control products, DynoMax® exhaust products and Walker Ultra® catalytic converters, and in European markets, Walker and Aluminox Pro™ mufflers. Further, we introduced Monroe® Springs and Monro-Magnum® (bus and truck shock line) in Europe and Monroe Dynamics® and Monroe Ceramics® brake pads in the United States. We continue to explore other opportunities for developing new product lines that will be marketed under our existing, well-known brands.

We strive to gain market share in the aftermarket business by adding new product offerings and increasing our market coverage of existing brands and products. To this end, we offer an innovative, ride control product, the Quick-Strut®, that combines the spring and the upper mount into a single, complete module and simplifies and shortens the installation process, eliminating the need for the special tools and skills required previously. We plan on adapting our products further for use in foreign nameplate vehicles with the introduction of OESpectrum to our ride control line. We benefited from the consolidation of, and regional expansion by, our customers and gained business lost by competitors that encountered financial difficulties.

Our success in the aftermarket business strengthens our competitive position with OEMs. We gain timely market and product knowledge that can be used to modify and enhance our offerings for greater customer acceptance. On our exhaust product line, we continue to enhance our converter coverage, including additional manifold converter part numbers. In addition, we also offer aftermarket diesel particulate filters.

Execute Focused Transactions
We have successfully identified and capitalized on strategic acquisitions and alliances to achieve growth. Through these acquisitions and alliances, we have (1) expanded our product portfolio with complementary technologies; (2) realized incremental business from existing customers; (3) gained access to new customers; and (4) achieved leadership positions in geographic markets outside North America.

We developed a strategic alliance with Futaba, a leading exhaust manufacturer in Japan. This alliance helps us grow our business with Japan-based OEMs by leveraging the geographical reach of our partner to serve global vehicle platforms of these OEMs. We positioned ourselves as a leading exhaust supplier in the rapidly growing Asian market through our operations in China, India and Thailand. In June 2009, we formed a joint venture with Beijing Hainachuan Automotive Parts Company Limited in Beijing that produces emission control exhaust systems for Hyundai. In addition, we continue to serve North American and European OEMs located in China; we supply luxury cars produced by BMW and Audi through our joint venture with Ebersp�cher International GmbH, and we supply various Ford platforms through our joint venture with Chengdu Lingchuan Mechanical Plant. We established a local engineering center in Shanghai to develop automotive exhaust products when our joint venture with Shanghai Tractor and Engine Company, a subsidiary of Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp., was expanded. Also, we increased our investment from 60 percent to 80 percent in Tenneco Tongtai Exhaust Company Limited located in Dalian in January 2010 and from 75 percent to 100 percent in our Thailand emission control company, Walker Exhaust Co. Limited in August 2011. Further, we formed a new joint venture in March 2010 with FAW Sihuan to supply emission control components and systems for passenger and commercial vehicles.

In February 2009, we signed a joint development agreement with GE Transportation, a unit of General Electric Company, to develop a proprietary diesel aftertreatment technology for various transportation and other applications. We are collaborating with GE Transportation on the development and production of GE’s Hydrocarbon Lean NOx catalyst technology, a diesel aftertreatment innovation aimed at reducing harmful nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions as effectively as urea-based SCR systems. We are working with others on alternative urea SCR technologies, such as solid forms of ammonia.

We signed exclusive licensing agreements for T.R.U.E. Clean®, an exhaust aftertreatment technology used for automatic and active regeneration of Diesel Particulate Filters (DPFs), with Woodward Governor Company and for vaporizer technologies with another company. These technologies, which complement our array of existing emissions control products, allow us to provide integrated exhaust aftertreatment systems to commercial vehicle manufacturers and others.

We intend to continue to pursue strategic alliances, joint ventures, acquisitions and other transactions that complement or enhance our existing products, technology, systems development efforts, customer base and/or global presence. We will align with companies that have proven products, proprietary technology, advanced research capabilities, broad geographic reach, and/or strong market positions to further strengthen our product leadership, technology position, global reach and customer relationships.

Adapt Cost Structure to Economic Realities
We aggressively respond to difficult economic environments, aligning our operations to any resulting reductions in production levels and replacement demand and executing comprehensive restructuring and cost-reduction initiatives. In the fourth quarter of 2008, we launched a global restructuring program which included actions to permanently reduce our fixed cost base and flex our costs, such as:

During 2009, we further flexed our operations to address the market conditions, implementing temporary layoffs of hourly workers at our plants worldwide that were impacted by customers’ plant shutdowns and announced the closing of our original equipment ride control plant in Cozad, Nebraska. In North America, where customer production cuts were the greatest, we also initiated salaried employee furloughs. In Europe, we eliminated all temporary positions and negotiated with various works councils to pursue similar cost reduction efforts including reduced work hours. We instituted salary reductions of at least 10 percent for salaried employees effective April 1, 2009, and implemented other actions to control employee costs. As economic and industry-wide conditions improved, we restored salaries to their prior levels effective October 1, 2009, and reinstated the employer matching contributions to the employee 401(k) plans for the year 2010.

In addition, during 2009, we strategically reduced capital expenditures and engineering investments where possible without compromising our long-term growth prospects. We eliminated or postponed regional expansion projects, deferred spending tied to delayed customer launches, redeployed assets where feasible, and eliminated all discretionary capital spending. We focused on developing technologies and capabilities tied to business launching within the next two to three years, making exceptions in instances where the customer agreed to pay upfront for engineering and advance technology developments for programs launching in 2012 and beyond. In this way, we were able to continue all programs critical to our growth while limiting any near-term cash impact.

In the third quarter of 2011, we completed a restructuring action that permanently eliminated 53 positions, or seven percent of our total workforce in Australia, which put our cost structure more in line with the industry environment. This restructuring is part of a continuing broader plan for the Asia Pacific region where we are positioning Tenneco for growth by re-deploying assets to maximize utilization while at the same time addressing the industry environment in the region.

Strengthen Operational Excellence
We will continue to focus on operational excellence by optimizing our manufacturing footprint, enhancing our Six Sigma processes and Lean productivity tools, developing further our engineering capabilities, managing the complexities of our global supply chain to realize purchasing economies of scale while satisfying diverse and global requirements, and supporting our businesses with robust information technology systems. We will make investments in our operations and infrastructure as required to achieve our strategic goals. We will be mindful of the changing market conditions that might necessitate adjustments to our resources and manufacturing capacity around the world. We will remain committed to protecting the environment as well as the health and safety of our employees.

Environmental Matters
We estimate that we and our subsidiaries will make expenditures for plant, property and equipment for environmental matters of approximately $8 million in
2012 and $3 million in 2013.

For additional information regarding environmental matters, see Item 3, “Legal Proceedings,” Item 7, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — Environmental and Other Matters,” Item 7, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — Liquidity and Capital Resources” and Note 12 to the consolidated financial statements of Tenneco Inc. included in Item 8.

Employees
As of December 31, 2011, we had approximately 24,000 employees of whom approximately 48 percent were covered by collective bargaining agreements. European works councils cover 19 percent of our total employees, a majority of whom are also included under collective bargaining agreements. Several of our existing labor agreements in Mexico are scheduled for renegotiation in 2012. In addition, agreements are expiring in 2012 in Europe and South America covering plants in France, Germany, Poland, and Argentina. We regard our employee relations as satisfactory.

Other
The principal raw material that we use is steel. We obtain steel from a number of sources pursuant to various contractual and other arrangements. We believe that an adequate supply of steel can presently be obtained from a number of different domestic and foreign suppliers. In general, steel prices have been increasing since 2004 with the exception of a temporary but significant decline in prices as a result of the economic turmoil in 2008 and 2009. We addressed these price increases by evaluating alternative materials and processes, reviewing material substitution opportunities, increasing component and assembly to best cost countries, as well as strategically pursuing regional and global purchasing strategies for specific commodities, and aggressively negotiating with our customers to allow us to recover these higher costs from them. As global economies continue to recover, we expect increasing price pressure on key commodities, including rubber, oil and steel.

We hold a number of domestic and foreign patents and trademarks relating to our products and businesses. We manufacture and distribute our products primarily under the Walker® and Monroe® brand names, which are well-recognized in the marketplace and are registered trademarks. We also sell certain of our emission control products to OE manufacturers under the names SOLID SCR™ and XNOx™. The patents, trademarks and other intellectual property owned by or licensed to us are important in the manufacturing, marketing and distribution of our products.