Hella Stays on Automotive Growth Path in the Americas


PLYMOUTH, Mich., April 18, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Hella, a major supplier of automotive electronics and lighting systems, continues to grow its operations in the Americas — adding jobs, expanding its manufacturing footprint and introducing new fuel-saving technology.

The company added more than 50 jobs in Illinois and Michigan last year and plans to fill more new positions throughout the Americas in 2011, said Dr. Martin Fischer, CEO of Hella’s Electronics Division in the Americas and president of the company’s Corporate Center USA in Plymouth, Michigan.

“Our electronics business in the NAFTA region alone grew on an annualized basis of more than 20 percent,” the Hella executive reported. “To meet current customer demand, we plan to further expand facilities in the U.S. and Mexico.”

Fischer said Hella plans to add several new production lines at its high-tech manufacturing plant in Flora, Ill.; complete a 55,000-square-foot expansion of the company’s San Jose Iturbide electronics plant in Mexico, and expand its engineering and product development presence in Brazil.

To support customer demand in North America, Fisher said the company’s Flora plant is to begin production of intelligent battery sensors — part of Hella’s portfolio of energy-management components — next year. The company’s expanded facility in Mexico shall fill increased demand for existing products and support the introduction of a new line of contactless position sensors for use in steering and transmission applications.

The company has received a number of major new-business awards from automakers in the Americas, including contracts for energy-management sensors, radar-based driver assistance components, body electronics, and lighting products.

“Hella already has produced nearly 1.5 million sensors for automotive radar systems using 24-gigahertz technology in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region,” he said. “We’re now seeing demand for similar systems in the Americas.”

Hella considers its innovative new technologies in both lighting and electronics as the cornerstones for its success in the Americas and elsewhere around the world. The supplier’s research-and-development programs employ 3,500 people, more than 15 percent of Hella’s total workforce.

Fischer noted that full-LED lighting systems and energy-saving electronics were just two areas that will be very important for Hella in the future.

Hella currently provides full-LED headlamp systems with adaptive front lighting for both the Audi A8 and recently introduced 2011 Audi A6. The company’s “intelligent” LED lighting system is one of four headlight systems Hella supplies to Audi for the A6.  Relying on 64 LEDs, Hella’s technology provides light that adapts to a variety of driving situations and is similar to daylight in quality.

“The Audi A6’s sporty appearance is enhanced by LED lighting as well,” pointed out Steffen Pietzonka, vice president of marketing for Hella’s automotive lighting division in Lippstadt, Germany. “We’re proud of our partnership with Audi and pleased that Hella’s LED lighting systems are able to contribute to Audi’s distinctive A8 and A6 styling.”

Hella’s proven energy-management systems also are helping automakers achieve ambitious new fuel-economy goals.

“Despite growing interest in hybrids and electric vehicles, proven technology for gasoline-powered cars and light trucks will be key to improving overall fuel economy and reducing emissions for years to come,” Fischer said, noting that Hella has been a leader in the development and production of stop-start system components, accelerator pedal sensors, electric vacuum pumps and turbocharger actuators.

As an example, he pointed out that Hella’s stop-start technology has the potential to improve overall fuel economy by seven to eight percent in city driving. In lighting, HID- and LED-headlamp systems also can reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions.

Fischer reported that Hella had recently streamlined its management team to meet new market demands throughout the Americas. Mark Brainard has been named vice president of sales at Hella’s Corporate Center and Steve Lietaert appointed vice president of program management at Hella Electronics Corporation, both headquartered in Plymouth, Michigan.

Brainard will lead efforts to further strengthen Hella’s business relationships in automotive lighting and electronics, aiming at positioning the company for additional growth in strategic product areas such as energy management, driver assistance and lighting. Lietaert will be responsible for the launch, management and growth of new products in North America.

To help meet its need for engineers in a variety of technology areas, including radar- and camera-based driver assistance systems, sensor-based energy management systems and automotive lighting, Hella recently named Heather Bender director of human resources for its automotive electronics, lighting and corporate business operations in the United States.

About Hella:  

Hella KGaA Hueck & Co. develops and manufactures lighting and electronics components and systems for the automotive industry. Its joint venture companies also produce complete vehicle modules, air-conditioning systems and vehicle electric systems. In addition, Hella has one of the largest automotive aftermarket organizations in the world, with its own sales companies and partners in more than 100 countries.

Hella Group sales were $4.98 billion in fiscal year 2009-2010. Hella is one of the top 50 automotive parts suppliers in the world and one of the 100 largest industrial companies in Germany. Nearly 23,000 people work at 70 locations in more than 30 countries, including more than 3,500 research and development engineers and technicians. Additional information is available at www.hella.com.


CONTACT: Markus Richter, Hella KGaA Hueck & Company, +49-29-41-38-7545, markus.richter@hella.com; or Media, Larry Weis of AutoCom Associates, +1-248-647-8621, lweis@usautocom.com

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