Automotive manufacturer Suzuki’s Jimny has amassed a loyal following in South Africa, with its new boxy Gen 4 (JB74) model eliciting much excitement in the 4x4 community.
KwaZulu-Natal-based aftermarket Jimny 4x4 hardware manufacturer Des Sol MD Lynton Godfrey says many of the company’s clients fit Des Sol 50 mm Suspension Lift Kits immediately after taking delivery of their vehicles.
Des Sol has been helping Jimny enthusiasts customise their affordable off-roaders since 2017.
Mass production of the Des Sol Gen 3 lift kit started in July 2018 to improve the Jimny’s already impressive off-road capabilities. The Gen 4 lift kit was added in 2019.
Designed to be affordable for most South Africans and to compete in the export market, the kit includes Gabriel Shocks, Des Sol springs and cross member, extended brake lines, a light-levelling sensor bracket and caster correction bushes.
While Gabriel SA manufactures the HDP shock absorbers in Cape Town and the Des Sol coil springs are made according to the company’s specifications by a local manufacturer, the rest of the components are manufactured in-house. Thereafter, they are hand checked for quality and assembled into the final kit form at Des Sol’s KwaZulu-Natal facility.
Despite slow demand following the launch of the kit, the company now sells between three and five kits a week, with about 70% of demand coming from Gen 4 owners.
Setting De Sol’s offering apart from competitor kits is its affordability and design ingenuity, such as combining the existing, sleek original-equipment manufacturer look with the improved articulation, functionality and strength of Des Sol’s cross-member design, explains Godfrey.
“Most of our competitors just use drop down brackets, limiting the vehicles ground clearance.”
In addition, the Des Sol kit’s local manufacture means off-the-shelf replacement parts can be shipped anywhere in South Africa in no more than two days, states Godfrey.
“We started developing our 50 mm lift kit in mid-2017. This entailed intensive loaded and unloaded 4x4 field testing of our spring design to ensure maximum flex while still maintaining suitable road surface traction.”
Godfrey notes that as some South African coil spring manufacturers use a hot rolled process and locally produced steel, Des Sols’ engineers found that these coils did not retain their memory, wore unevenly and generally presented early spring fatigue.
They addressed these issues by using a cold-rolled steel, which delivers about 20% more strength by using strain hardening, and imported high-quality steel composition.
The company’s coil springs are manufactured in accordance with ISO 9001:2015 and certified by the German technical inspection agency TÜV. Des Sol is also busy obtaining IATF 16949 certification for its coil spring manufacturing process.
This process consists of checking the raw material specification against the order requirement, cold rolling, post coiling stress relieving, end grinding, a chamfering process, shot peening, post shot peening stress relieving, load testing and scragging.
In general, the raw materials for the Des Sol 50 mm lift kit components are sourced from Sweden, South Korea, Spain and India.
Des Sol currently produces 100 sets of the 50 mm lift kits a month but can increase production by 100% or more if demand requires.
The company currently exports to individual clients worldwide, with its products popular with Jimny owners from Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand, the Middle East and Zambia.
“However, Qatar represents the greatest demand, as clients there are more concerned about quality than the cost of shipping the product,” states Godfrey.
Before installing the Des Sol lift kit, owners need to approach the dealer principle of the Suzuki agent concerned and request a warranty waiver on the suspension kit, which is sometimes refused.
“Despite many manufacturers implying that their Jimny aftermarket 4x4 products are approved by Suzuki SA, this has never been the case,” warns Godfrey.
Des Sol also manufactures aluminium roof racks, front and rear bumpers, bash plates, recovery points, rock sliders, radial cup protectors, wheel spacers, adjustable panhard bars and differential breather kits in-house for the Gen 3 and Gen 4 Jimny models.