Hella (company)

Hella KGaA Hueck & Co.
Industry Automotive parts
Founded 1899
Founder Sally Windmüller
Headquarters Lippstadt, Germany
Number of locations
Area served
Products Automotive parts
Revenue 5,3 billion EUR (2014/15)
Number of employees
Website www.hella.com

Hella KGaA Hueck & Co. (the company's preferred spelling: 'HELLA') is an internationally operating German automotive part supplier with headquarters in Lippstadt, North Rhine-Westphalia. The company develops and manufactures lighting and electronic components and systems for the automotive industry, and also has one of the largest trade organizations for automotive parts, accessories, diagnosis and services within Europe.


Hella is one of the top 50 global automotive suppliers and belongs to the 100 largest industrial companies in Germany. Worldwide, about 30,700 people are employed in more than 100 locations in over 35 countries. More than 5,800 engineers and technicians work in research and development within the company.


Sally Windmüller founded the company in 1899 under the name Westfälische Metall-Industrie Aktien-Gesellschaft (WMI) to produce ball horns and candles and kerosene lamps for carriages.

Hella's name first appeared in 1908 as a trademark for acetylene headlights. In 1923, the manufacturing family Lüdenscheider Hueck took over the majority of the shares. The name “Hella” was included in the company name in 1986. The most likely explanation for the Hella brand is attributed to Sally Windmüller: He wanted to honour his wife Helen, in short Hella, and also wanted to use the playful association between this name and the German word hell (bright).

After World War II the company started to expand, so that in 1951 the first subsidiary company was founded in Wembach. Today HELLA has six different production manufactures in Germany, which are located in Lippstadt, Bremen, Recklinghausen, Hamm (Bockum-Hövel), Nellingen and Wembach.

Early internationalization and the creation of a global distribution network in the 1960s resulted in the company developing one of the largest distribution networks in the industry, including its own subsidiaries and partners in numerous markets worldwide. In 1961, for example, the first foreign production plant was founded in Mentone, Australia. Today HELLA has more than 100 places of location in over 35 countries and is operating in the economic region of Europe, NAFTA/South America, Africa and Asia/Pacific.

Since the early 1990s Hella is also part of several Joint Ventures with other automotive part suppliers. Those Joint Ventures help developing other fields of competence. At the moment HELLA cooperates with several different companies, such as Mahle Behr, Plastic Omnium, Samlip, Leoni, Mando, TMD Friction and InnoSenT GmbH. Joint Ventures are, for example, HBPO GmbH and BHTC GmbH in Lippstadt. Furthermore, the holding "HELLA Stanley Ltd Pty" with Stanley Electric Co., Ltd. was founded in 2002, which is located in Melbourne.

In 2008, Hella started a joint venture between Hella and Gutmann Messtechnik GmbH, diagnostic specialists, to devote more attention to this area. Also in 2008, it was announced that the company would pay more attention in the future to issues and items that are outside of the traditional automotive domain. That same year, Hella sold Danish subsidiary Holger Christiansen A/S to the automotive supplier Bosch.

Because of strong economical fluctuations Hella recorded a loss in the fiscal year 2005/06. The management decided for a program to lower the costs and increase efficiency, so that in the following fiscal year 2006/07 an operational gain could be recorded. In the fiscal year 2007/08 this operational gain increased again. Furthermore, Hella recorded the second highest consolidated sale of 4,4 billion Euro. In the following fiscal years a constant growth was recorded, which reached 5,3 billion Euro in 2013/14.

Products and services

A rally car with mounted Hella headlights

The main businesses of Hella can be divided into three segments: Automotive, Aftermarket and Special Applications. The Automotive Segment consists of the development, production and marketing of lighting and electronic components and systems both for vehicle manufacturers and for other suppliers. In the Aftermarket Segment the company develops, produces and markets products for the independent aftermarket and for garages. The Special Applications Segment serves target groups ranging from the producers of construction machinery through boat builders right up to municipalities and energy suppliers by providing them with innovative lighting and electronic products.

In the division lightning, Hella develops and manufactures headlamps, refulgence and interior lighting. Recent innovations include headlights that adapt to the prevailing driving and weather situation. Headlamps with LEDs as light sources for low beam and high beam are already produced in series. An example would be the beams in the Cadillac Escalade Platinum. As daytime running lights, they are in many middle and upper class vehicles often been voted as standard. Camera-based driver-assistance systems provide the next level of innovation. They create new opportunities for optimum light distribution, depending on the traffic situation. For this reason, the company took over AGLAIA, the Berlin-based specialist for visual sensor systems, in 2006.

Systems to increase efficiency and safety and comfort systems dominate the electronic product portfolio. These include Data-enabled electronic control units and roof modules as complex light-electronic modules, as well as Vehicle access and driving authorization. Modules for power management to optimise the energy balance of the electrical system and improve the battery charge balance. Innovation and growth area are electronic driver assistance systems. With infrared (lidar), 24-GHz radar and camera and ultrasonic sensors, Hella offers here a powerful technology portfolio and the corresponding series experience. Another important business segment are electronic components such as position sensors, actuators, vacuum pumps and wash water systems.

Hella is one of the world's largest companies selling automotive parts and accessories with its own sales companies and partners in more than 100 countries. Thus Hella supplies the automotive aftermarket and garages with comprehensive and continually growing parts ranges in the core areas of lighting, electrical, electronics and thermal management. In addition, the aftermarket and garages are provided with effective sales support and expert technical service. In 2005, the joint venture Behr Hella Service was established for the collective processing of the global independent aftermarket for vehicle air conditioning and engine cooling.

Through strategic partnerships with companies such as Behr and Plastic Omnium, Hella is well established in other areas, such as front-ends (joint venture HBPO GmbH, Lippstadt), and climate control systems and engine cooling (joint venture BHTC GmbH, Stuttgart).

In addition to car accessories designed for civilian cars, Hella also manufactures special signaling for official emergency vehicles. These include flash beacons and beacons (in blue and yellow), Visual Warning Systems (OWS) and all-round sound combinations (RTK). These are compact roof structures that combine the two blue lights, sirens, and possibly several additional issues. Police, emergency services, fire departments, agencies for technical aid and numerous other operators of deployment and use special vehicles use them. Also part of the product range of authorities, are headlights on the bumper and some other products (e.g., covert special signal for civilian emergency vehicles).

The New Zealand subsidiary, Hella New Zealand Limited, provides the Hella marine lights program for marine use. These include not only the mast and interior lighting with LED technology and lighting systems for boat trailers.

In the 'Industries' segment Hella transfers existing technologies from the automotive sector to new target groups. As a first pilot project some cities in China have been provided with these new street lights. Another project is the LED-airport beacons, which can be found at the airports of Luxembourg, Paderborn/Lippstadt and Stavanger. Despite, new components for LED-interior lighting are being offered.

In 2012 Hella started a cooperation with the Chinese automobile manufacturer BAIC to develop and produce light systems, particularly designed for the Chinese market.

See also

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