Automotive cooling specialists Behr and Hella KGaA Hueck are to form a joint venture – Behr Hella Service – to serve the global independent aftermarket for vehicle air conditioning and engine cooling systems.

Subject to European regulatory approval, the joint venture will begin operations in Europe at the end of 2005 and there are plans to expand globally later.

The two companies plan to combine the activities of Behr Service with Hella’s aftermarket air-conditioning business in a new company based in Schwaebisch Hall, Germany.

Behr and Hella each will hold a 50% share in the joint venture. Management will be shared by Juergen Laucher, managing director of Behr Service, and Joachim Damasky, responsible for electronics and air conditioning at Hella’s aftermarket products division.

“Behr Hella Service represents a logical continuation of the cooperation between Behr and Hella in our air conditioning and front end modules businesses,” said Laucher. “It combines Hella’s global sales organisation with Behr’s product know-how, pooling our aftermarket activities in the air conditioning and engine cooling sectors.”

The joint venture is expected to provide customers with a wide range of parts and services.

“The joint venture offers customers special expertise in the areas of climate control and heat transmission, as well as excellent service competence in parts supplies, technical information and training packages for both the independent aftermarket and garages,” added Damasky.

The joint venture is already claiming that it will dominate the western European market for condensers and compressors and passenger car cooling parts.

Its customer service operations will be supported primarily by Hella’s international sales organisation.