Behr GmbH & Co. KG, a specialist in automotive air conditioning and engine cooling systems, has formed a joint venture with Shanghai Automotive Co., Ltd. (SA), China, and Japanese Sanden Corporation to develop, produce and market refrigerant compressors for cars and trucks.

The new company will trade under the name Shanghai Sanden Behr Automobile Air Condition Co., Ltd. (SSB) and will be based in Shanghai.

Shanghai Longhua Industrial Co., Ltd. (SLI), an industrial development company, also will participate in the joint venture.

Behr has a 17.5 percent share in the new company, with SA, Sanden and SLI holding stakes of 38.5 percent, 35 percent and 9 percent, respectively. Behr's partners already have been active on the Chinese market in the field of automotive HVAC compressors. As a result, says Behr, SSB will begin operations with a broad customer base and rank number one among competitors in this market segment.

In the current business year the joint venture, with a workforce of around 1,000, will produce and market 1.4 million compressors. In 2008 production output is targeted to be in the order of three million compressors. The sales target for 2004 is around 1.6 billion RMB (155 million euros) and SSB is aiming to generate sales of around 3.0 billion RMB (300 million euros) by 2010.

Last year, Behr signed an agreement for the company's first joint venture in China with Shanghai Automotive, a subsidiary of Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC), China's biggest automaker and supplier group. The 50-50 joint venture was formed to develop, manufacture and market air conditioners and engine cooling products.

The SSB team includes Sanden Corporation, a manufacturer of compressors for automotive air conditioners, which has been partnered with Behr in another joint venture in Japan since 2001. Both companies are pursuing the same goals as in Japan, which is to offer automakers complete climate control systems.

Markus Flik, Behr's CEO, said: "The founding of SSB is another major step toward our goal of establishing Behr -- together with its partners -- in China as a supplier of complete climate control systems."