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The Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation

The air conditioning compressor—from a comfort feature to an operationally reliable component


Date: 13-Mar-2020

Since the acquisition of Behr Hella Service (BHS) by MAHLE Aftermarket, intense activity has been underway at the logistics centres in Poland, Germany, Great Britain, Spain, France, Turkey, Russia, the USA, Brazil, South Africa, and China. MAHLE air conditioning compressors—both mechanically and electrically driven—are in particularly high demand.

Air conditioning compressors are at the heart of the refrigerant circuit. They condition the cabin and control the temperature of probably the most important component in the electric vehicle powertrain: the battery. 

After all, keeping the traction battery at the right temperature has a crucial impact on the service life, charging speed, and cruising range of the electric vehicle. 

Traction motors and power electronics must also be cooled. This is transforming the role of the air conditioning compressor. While it was previously responsible for comfort in the cabin, it is now a component of the powertrain, protecting it from damage and ensuring the operational safety of the vehicle. 

Electric vehicles have to use electrically driven compressors because the circumferential ribbed belt cannot be used as a drive as in the case of a combustion engine. 

But hybrid vehicles or vehicles with a combustion engine also benefit from electrically driven compressors since they can be operated on a demand basis, thereby reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

“The extended functionality of the air conditioning compressor in the area of e-mobility and in hybrids is boosting the significance of the A/C service, thereby creating greater service volumes for workshops,” says Olaf Henning, Corporate Executive Vice President and General Manager MAHLE Aftermarket. 

“It is up to workshops to inform drivers of hybrid and electric vehicles about the consequences of a system failure. These range from reduced cruising range or vehicle stoppage to damaged components. Of course, we support our customers by providing them with information material, training, and our proven A/C service and diagnostics solutions,” Henning continues.

In 2020, its anniversary year, MAHLE Aftermarket has 1,100 different air conditioning compressors in its range. 

When purchasing, MAHLE Aftermarket’s customers benefit from its extensive expertise in the OEM business, 100 years of experience in the development and production of components for vehicles, as well as more than 30 years of experience in the area of A/C service.

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