Kárászy is one of the oldest automotive companies in Central and Eastern Europe, established in 1872 in Budapest, and specialized in the manufacturing of shock absorbers for automotive and railway vehicles. At the beginning of our business, the company has dealt with the maintenance and manufacturing of horse-drawn vehicle suspension elements. Passenger cars, bus, truck shock absorbers followed this in the advancing years. 

By the 90s, Kárászy was invited to develop, manufacture and maintenance railway shock absorbers by the Hungarian State Railways (Magyar Államvasutak). In the first years entering the railway shock absorber market, they first provided maintenance services for the railway shock absorbers. Increasing the demand for railway shock absorbers in Hungary, they developed their first railway shock absorbers for the old Hungarian locomotives and rail coaches.

Thanks to innovation-oriented company tradition and the talented engineering team, Kárászy was able to develop several high-performance railway shock absorbers series approved by the highest authorities in the railway sector.

Nowadays, Kárászy has become the largest shock absorber manufacturer in Central Europe. Innovation and value-adding partnerships are fundamental values of Kárászy’s mission statement. Kárászy Co. products and engineering services meet global customer’s requirements with complete satisfaction from Europe to Asia to Africa to America with the best quality and robust cooperation.

Interview with Balázs Kárászi, CEO at Kárászy.

Easy Engineering: What are the main areas of activity of the company?

Balázs Kárászi: Kárászy design, develop, manufacture and sell railway, bus and truck shock absorbers to many countries around the world. Kárászy always helps our customers design new products, redesign an existing project and investigate cost savings. We offer commercial and tailor-made solutions to our customers for a wide range of railway, bus, truck and heavy-duty vehicles. All ranges of products are designed and developed by Kárászy Co.’s experience, knowledge and engineering capacity. Our products can meet any demands that may arise in the field; a custom design, regional product adaptations and tests, prototype support, small or large series production. 

E.E: What’s the news about new products?

B.K: We continuously develop new products based on our customer’s demands. In addition, we do research and development for needs of the future rail vehicles. Our products are mainly recyclable, which can be reused after maintenance by our experts. Last two decades company policy prioritized environmental protection, therefore our product design phase starts with recyclability concerns. Besides that, our recent railway series can be integrated into various railway applications which covers all the needs for dampers. We call “one-touch makes everything possible” for this unique series, K146 and K147. Recently, we developed an integrated damper, K148, an identical twin of the K147 series, with a smaller and lighter design. Especially, urban transport vehicles require such damper types and so we come with an integrated solution. 

E.E: What are the ranges of products?

B.K: There are four main shock absorbers for railway bogies, including Primary damping, Secondary vertical damping, Secondary horizontal damping and Yaw damping (horizontal). We are able to offer each type for almost every type of railway vehicle. Our shock absorber series adapts fully to the needs of commercial vehicles suspension. Kárászy shock absorbers can meet any demands that may arise in the field, including narrow installation (i.e., size requirements), corrosive (e.g., dusty, humid, etc.) environment, high loading condition, horizontal installation, etc. Kárászy commercial vehicle shock absorbers can serve as long as 10-15 years with appropriate maintenance and care.

E.E: At what stage is the market where you are currently active?

B.K: We are the main supplier of the Hungarian State Rail company. This gives us huge power to penetrate the Eastern European market. Else than this, we have market share in specific countries, including the USA, India, Turkey at the moment. Now we are planning to expand our products and services far east, Scandinavian, and also Central and Western Asia and the Middle East markets. 

E.E: What can you tell us about market trends?

B.K: The railway market is more than 200 years old. Since then, the demand for shock absorbers and their engineering design shifted a few times by change in railway technology. However, technology integration is not the case anymore, and many producers are able to develop and produce cutting-edge technology products. Now, the producers and operators mainly prefer maximum safety, long operational life, sustainability, environmentally friendly, and continuous engineering support during and after the design stage. In addition, the cost of the shock absorbers remains another challenge in the market. The Covid-19 pandemic and related economic depression caused raw material price surges, affecting the supply of many railway components such as shock absorbers. Hence, we can add innovative engineering designs that downs the final product costs might be new trends in the upcoming days.

E.E: What are the most innovative products marketed?

B.K: We produce shock absorbers that can provide precise characteristics in a wide speed range and damping behavior. We also use special coated Teflon sliding elements, which provide a longer operational life: “install it and forget it”. Our piston and foot valve designs are also unique in the market. The pre-adjusted valves that we developed efficiently work under various operational conditions. The unique method we apply for our products provides straightforward assembly, which means a cost-effective solution and opens a way to recycle it after service life. All of our shock absorbers are recyclable products. It means the shock absorbers can be refurbished by our experts, that process could be extended operational life as effective as a new product.

E.E: What estimations do you have for 2022?

B.K: Railway transportation is an efficient mobility solution for urban and interurban transportation systems, given the increasing demand for passenger comfort and environmental concerns. This has created the need to extend transportation networks, and so the number of railway vehicles. This is why the railway sector always grows to a certain extent every year. We expect a positive expansion of the market in 2022. However, sector participants in 2022 will be challenging to generate new projects. We expect three main difficulties that will be directly affecting production and demand, creating supply chain and market disruption and its financial impact on firms and financial markets. In fact, we have already had these issues since the last quarter of 2021. The influence of these difficulties will be heavier upcoming months. This might influence progress in ongoing projects, while the new projects might be suspended or postponed. However, we believe this influence will not directly influence railway component producers like us in 2022. We, Kárászy, aimed to increase our market share in markets we involved during 2022. On the other hand, we estimate a positive growth by the end of 2022.