TROY, MI – All of supplier Behr Group’s air conditioner and cooling system products can now be built in China, thanks to the three joint venture partners the German company maintains to serve the Chinese auto industry.
Now plants have been built by Behr and its affiliates in Shanghai and Wuhan, one of which, Shanghai Sanden Behr, has become the leading producer in China of vehicle refrigerant compressors.
Behr came to China in 2001, with its first partner being Shanghai Automotive Industry (Group) Corp. for vehicle thermal systems. This company at the end of 2005 relocated its production to a new Shanghai plant that includes a technical center.
Dongfeng Motor Corp., located in Wuhan, opened a production facility in 2006. This plant manufactures copper/brass and aluminum radiators for cars and trucks, charge-air coolers for trucks and air conditioning modules for both cars and trucks. The three Behr locations employ about 2,500.
In an interview, Behr America’s vice president for product and process development, Uwe Krueger, said that all of Behr’s worldwide technical centers are working on cooling systems for lithium-ion batteries that will power the upcoming wave of electric cars.
“Cooling overheated powertrains is a challenge for Behr,” said Krueger. “Just as we developed cooling systems that led way to growth of turbocharged smaller engines.
“Lithium-ion batteries have a tendency to overheat, unless cooling systems are in place to relieve that problem. All hybrid engines require significant balancing of heating and cooling, and we are prepared for that one in the U.S. and China.’
Based in Troy, Michigan, Behr America boasts one of the supplier industry’s few wind tunnels.
Uwe Krueger, 43, has a doctorate degree in mechanical engineering and oversees a U.S. technical staff which he said is “working 24-7 to prepare for the electrification age in motor vehicles worldwide.”
Located in Stuttgart, Germany, the home of Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and supplier Robert Bosch, the privately owned Behr Group reported revenues in 2008 of about $4.4 billion. Its worldwide employment is about 19,000 persons in 17 development and 28 production locations and 12 joint ventures.
Behr GmbH & Co. was founded in 1905 by Julius Friedrich Behr.