100 years of Pioniergeist.

MAHLE has been keeping people in motion for 100 years

The year is 1920. The Roaring Twenties are just beginning. It is the start of an exciting decade in which Charles Lindbergh will fly across the Atlantic, Albert Einstein will receive the Nobel Prize, Mahatma Gandhi will begin his non-violent protest, Deutsche Luft Hansa AG will be founded, and the Nürburgring will open. And in Bad Cannstatt/Germany, the foundation is being laid for a global company: in the following decades, Ernst and Hermann Mahle will develop products that become bestsellers and establish the reputation of today’s global corporation as an innovator.

Since then, MAHLE has become one of the 20 largest automotive suppliers worldwide with more than 72,000 employees. Today, we are a pioneer for the efficient mobility of tomorrow. Our innovative solutions continue to set new standards in the field of alternative drives and in the optimization of internal combustion engines.

What is our motivation? We want people to get from A to B efficiently and comfortably. Together with industry, politics and society, we work on the major challenges of our time, always keeping an eye on them. We are the creators of sustainable individual mobility. Moreover, being a foundation-owned company, we assume social responsibility.

Today and tomorrow. For future generations. And for the next 100 years.

Our milestones at a glance

The start of a success story
Hellmuth Hirth develops two-stroke engines in Stuttgart/Germany and needs commercial support. Hermann Mahle begins work on December 1, 1920. This day is considered the birthday of today’s MAHLE Group.
The Mahle brothers work together
The company specializes in light-alloy pistons. Since it was founded, around 40,000 pistons have already been produced by its workforce, which now numbers 200 employees. But technical difficulties arise. Hermann Mahle asks his brother Ernst to join the company as an engineer.
Filters extend the life of pistons
The more demanding the engines, the more performance is required from the pistons. Only a few roads are asphalted, and dust damages the pistons. Ernst Mahle decides to develop air and oil filters.
The legendary ring carrier piston
Premature wear on light-alloy pistons continues to cause problems. The solution is the ring carrier piston developed by Ernst Mahle. This technology is still widely used today.
The company becomes MAHLE
Since 1933, the Mahle brothers have been the company’s sole shareholders, and in 1938, they convert it into a KG (limited partnership) bearing their name: MAHLE. The logotype, which has remained virtually unchanged to this day, is introduced as the company’s logo.
Dictatorship. Armament. War.
Production is directed toward “purposes that are particularly urgent under a military economy.” By 1944, the number of employees—including foreign and forced laborers—has increased to more than 6,000.
Realignment after the war
Sixty percent of MAHLE KG’s value and assets were lost after the war. Ernst Mahle moves to Brazil and establishes a new piston production facility there. In Germany, MAHLE switches to repair pistons, rack wagons, and kitchen appliances.
Donating to a good cause
The Mahle brothers incorporate their company into a foundation. Its funding priorities are health care & nursing, education & training, agriculture & nutrition, as well as the arts & culture. The largest funding project to date is the Filderklinik, located near Stuttgart/Germany.
Farewell to the Mahle brothers
Around 50 years after founding the company, the Mahle brothers step down. They can look back on an impressive life’s work: MAHLE generates sales of over DM 400 million, with more than 6,000 employees.
Comeback of the filter business
Its significant holding in Knecht Filterwerke allows MAHLE to reintroduce filter activities into its product range, having discontinued them in 1941 due to the war. As a result of the associated decision to become a systems provider, this product area is soon one of the mainstays of the group.
MAHLE becomes international
Although MAHLE cooperates with international licensees, it does not have its own plants abroad. The first plant in the USA is founded in 1975, in Brazil in 1978.
Becoming a systems partner
MAHLE evolves from a components manufacturer to a development partner for systems and modules. Following the acquisition of J. Wizemann in 1991 and Pleuco in 1994, the company also manufactures valve train systems alongside pistons, engine components, and filter systems.
First plants in Asia
In 1997, a joint venture in India marks the breakthrough in the Far East. The acquisitions in Japan of Izumi in 1999 and Tennex in 2001 represent major steps forward. MAHLE thereby becomes the world’s largest provider of filter systems. In subsequent years, the company expands its presence in Asia significantly.
Development partner for OEMs
The nineties saw significant start-ups and acquisitions in Mexico, Brazil, India, Poland, Italy, South Korea, and Japan. This continued apace in the new millennium. MAHLE becomes a globally active group that ranks among the leaders of the automotive supply industry.
The first MAHLE complete engine
The high-speed, four-stroke in-line engine with a completely novel overall structure and aluminum design demonstrates, in impressive fashion, that MAHLE now produces more engine components and modules than any other engine manufacturer.
Downsizing demonstrator sets the standard
MAHLE acquires the engine manufacturer Cosworth Technology—now MAHLE Powertrain. Two years later, in 2007, the group documents its systems competence with a downsizing concept: half the displacement, the same power output—and 30 percent lower CO2 emissions.
MAHLE + Behr = Mehr (More)
Engine cooling and air conditioning are important topics for the future—and Behr is the ideal partner. MAHLE gradually becomes the majority shareholder. The first joint project that demonstrates how much potential lies in the acquisition is an air intake module with integrated indirect charge air cooling. In 2013, MAHLE Behr—with its 17,000 employees and 38 production locations—becomes the new Thermal Management business unit.
Fresh air for the fuel cell
MAHLE becomes series supplier for a fuel cell passenger car for the first time and delivers air intake modules and ion exchangers to a major Asian manufacturer. Since then, MAHLE has consistently expanded its competence in components and systems for the fuel cell.
Production locations worldwide
More plants are opened and constructed in 2014 than in any other year. MAHLE now has over 140 production locations. Around 20 percent of the more than 66,000 employees work in Asia and around 30 percent in North and South America.
Looking to the future with a dual strategy
As well as optimizing the combustion engine, MAHLE is driving forward the development of alternative mobility concepts. The takeovers of Letrika and Kokusan Denki represent an expansion of the mechatronics activities, while the acquisition of Nagares in 2017 allowed the company to make its entry into vehicle electronics.
MEET concept vehicle impresses
At 12 major R&D centers, more than 6,000 development engineers and technicians work on innovative solutions for the mobility of the future. With the MEET study, MAHLE impressively demonstrates how urban mobility can look: highly efficient, electric, and also affordable.
Smart charging for electric vehicles
The MAHLE corporate start-up chargeBIG develops an intelligent charge management system for users of long-stay parking, which can be integrated into the existing infrastructure at low cost and without protracted conversion work. Numerous orders are received.
New Electronics and Mechatronics business unit
By transferring the Mechatronics division to a new business unit and merging it with the compressors and pumps product areas, MAHLE is further developing its strategic focus on alternative powertrain technologies.

You also want to study
the years between the milestones?

MAHLE chronicle

MAHLE Greatest Hits

MAHLE has been shaping mobility for 100 years. In the MAHLE Greatest Hits series, MAHLE’s most acclaimed innovations of the past and present tell their own tales of how they promoted mobility. Then we will also take a glimpse into the future, how upcoming MAHLE innovations will contribute in our quest to shape the future of mobility.

Pistons at MAHLE come also out of 3D printers.

The ring carrier pistion

“I was the key to MAHLE’s success”

“MAHLE’s 100-year success story originates with me! Painstaking research and innovative strength have been permanent fixtures at MAHLE ever since 1920. Pistons were the company’s core business—and I, the patented ring carrier piston, was MAHLE’s first best seller!

My inventor, Ernst Mahle, was a great pioneer. He made sure that I improved the seal in diesel engines and thus reduced the wear and tear they were exposed to. That was the crucial breakthrough that significantly extended the life of an engine. It wasn’t long before I could be found on every road in the world!

Because MAHLE has always driven the mobility of the future, I too have kept on developing. I’ve never been more resilient than I am today. You can find me in vintage cars—and you’ll now also see me coming out of the 3D printers at MAHLE! Its knowledge about me also helps MAHLE to develop new products, such as solutions for alternative drives.”

The battery cooling keeps the temperature of the cell core within the optimal range.

Battery cooling

“I protect batteries for numerous vehicle manufacturers around the globe”

Batteries are one of the keys to the success of e-mobility. But they’re sensitive and need to be kept comfortable at an optimal temperature if they’re to last a long time. That’s why my arrival on the market in 2009 was such great news: I’m the world’s first refrigerant cooling solution for lithium-ion batteries!

My jacket is a cooling plate made of aluminum. There are channels inside me through which the refrigerant evaporates. This keeps the temperature of the cell core within the optimal range. I was installed in a hybrid vehicle first.

Since my world debut, MAHLE has continued to improve my design. These days, I protect batteries for many vehicle manufacturers around the globe. And thanks to immersion cooling, there’s now a new generation of battery systems that allow electric vehicles to be charged much more quickly without causing damage to the cells. With these developments, MAHLE demonstrates its innovative strength in shaping future mobility!

Thanks to TechPRO® Digital ADAS, workshop technicians can calibrate driver assistance systems in just ten minutes.

TechPRO® Digital ADAS

“Thanks to me, workshops can breathe a sigh of relief”

“I’m always on hand during the replacement of a windshield or other parts of a car on which important driving aids are mounted. These days, more and more cars are fitted with radar and cameras. This means that workshops are faced with a big challenge when it comes to resetting driver assistance systems after an accident, for example.

Before MAHLE invented me in 2018, technicians had to position a large, cumbersome panel in front of each car—and there was a different one for every vehicle model. These panels act like opticians, helping to orientate assistance systems so that they can tell up from down and back from front. As a result, calibration used to be a complex process.

When I, TechPRO® Digital ADAS, came on the scene, workshops around the world could finally breathe a sigh of relief! I combined the panels in one digital flat-screen display, which works for almost all manufacturers and models. Thanks to me, workshop technicians can calibrate driver assistance systems in just ten minutes. The number of cars with driver assistance systems will keep on increasing. This means that I’m in high demand—with customers asking for me every day.”

MAHLE MEET is a climate-friendly mobility concept.


“I showcase MAHLE’s innovative strength”

“In the future, a large proportion of the world’s population will live in cities. That means that city cars will be an important element of future mobility. MAHLE has seized this opportunity to develop a mobility concept that is both urban and climate-friendly—me!

My name is MAHLE Efficient Electric Transport, my friends call me MEET. I’m a light, agile vehicle concept with space for two people, and my design integrates MAHLE powertrain and thermal management technologies for e mobility!

From my 48-volt drive unit to my power electronics, efficient heat pump, and surface heaters through to my user interface, I showcase MAHLE’s comprehensive portfolio and innovative strength. I embody MAHLE’s commitment to play an active role in shaping future mobility.”

The intake pipe actuator is first product in the field of mechatronics that MAHLE developed and produced itself.

Intake pipe actuator

“All of MAHLE’s mechatronics activities started with me”

In truth, I am rather plain—nevertheless, I ushered in a new era at MAHLE. MAHLE’s activities in the field of mechatronics started with me, the intake pipe actuator. I’m the first product in this area that MAHLE developed and produced itself.

I make sure that the air column in an engine’s intake section resonates at the right frequency and enters the cylinder smoothly. My housing is lightweight and sturdy, and I work very precisely and quickly: I can open 90 degrees in 200 milliseconds.

Since I went into production in 2005, MAHLE has been steadily advancing in the field of mechatronics. The new Electronics and Mechatronics business unit was created at the start of 2020. This is where MAHLE has pooled all its activities in the segment and is developing the technologies of the future.

The wind tunnel creates temperatures ranging from –30°C to +50°C.

Wind tunnel

“I was a world first”

“When my creator, Manfred Behr, invented me in 1937, people probably didn’t find me outwardly attractive—but when they looked inside, I took their breath away! On the outside, I had the appearance of a modest corrugated iron shed, but inside something completely new was happening: I was a world first—the first wind tunnel anywhere in the automotive industry.

A huge fan with a 2-meter diameter simulated speeds of up to 100 km/h. My success was so groundbreaking that I even optimized the most famous race car of my time.

I’m still around today—and I’ve learned so much since I started out. As MAHLE’s climatic wind tunnel, I’ve been creating temperatures ranging from –30°C to +50°C since the majority acquisition of BEHR (in 2013). I can also simulate the position of the sun at all times of the day and generate speeds of up to 130 km/h, all of which helps MAHLE to develop the mobility of the future.”

Thanks to MAHLE X35, the e-bike is slim, elegant, and sporty.


„I gave the bicycle back its identity“

“E-bikes are one of the biggest trends in today’s mobility—there are more and more of them out on the world’s cycle paths and mountain bike trails. But thanks to the way they look, they can almost rob the bicycle of its identity. That’s because large batteries don’t just make e-bikes bulky and heavy, they also change their outward appearance. Then I came along—the MAHLE X35—and gave the bicycle back its identity!

It’s thanks to me that the e-bike is so slim, elegant, and sporty—you would hardly know that I’m a drive system. I offer users an optimum level of support. After all, as I always say, it’s not the maximum but rather the ideal performance that counts!

With my updated MAHLE X35+ compact system, I now weigh just 3.5 kilograms and provide a power output of 250 watts. What’s more, I’m digitally connected too. My app displays the rider’s pulse or how much of my electric power is being used. You’ll find me in models sold by a whole range of well-known international e-bike brands. I’m helping MAHLE play an active role in shaping sustainable mobility!”

The oil filter module is a shining example of the impressive know-how of MAHLE’s filters business segment.

Oil filter module

“I’m a revolution in oil management”

MAHLE’s success story has its origins in pistons and filters. But, in contrast to its pistons business, the company stopped its filter activities in 1941 due to the war. Then, in 1971, MAHLE made its comeback in this product area by taking a significant holding in Knecht Filterwerke.

I am the oil filter module—a shining example of the continued ongoing development work and impressive know-how of MAHLE’s filters business segment! I say that because I’m a revolution in oil management. I have many talents, keeping the engine and the transmission oil in the right temperature range as well as filtering the engine oil, of course. But I’m still lightweight and compact.

I made my debut on the market in 2010 and can be installed in almost any car—even in hybrid vehicles. I demonstrate MAHLE’s innovative strength in the filters business segment!

The onboard charger helps to significantly prolong the life of the battery.

Onboard charger

“I charge electric vehicles quickly anywhere”

For e-mobility to become established on our roads in the long term, it must be possible to charge electric vehicles quickly and in any location. So that this can happen anywhere, MAHLE developed me: the onboard charger.

Thanks to me, electric vehicles can be charged at any power outlet. That’s because I turn alternating current into direct current and manage the charging process. By doing this, I help to significantly prolong the life of the battery. Because I’m robust and have a clever cooling system, I also facilitate short charging times at higher capacities.

I still have a lot more to offer—and MAHLE, an active driving force behind future mobility, is set to unlock this potential. For example, I will be able to help electric cars not only consume energy but also become electricity suppliers using a smart battery.

The air intake module was the first project that MAHLE and BEHR worked on together.

Air intake module with integrated charge air cooling

“I’m the innovative result of outstanding teamwork!”

Together, MAHLE and BEHR are greater than the sum of their parts! I was the first to prove the truth of this maxim. In 2011, I was the first project that MAHLE and BEHR worked on together: the air intake module with integrated indirect charge air cooling.

What’s special about me is that my charge air cooler—produced by BEHR—is integrated directly in the intake pipe—produced by MAHLE. This means that not only do I reduce pressure loss, and therefore boost efficiency, but I also create more installation space and increase cooling capacity.

I’m a major success story! Because I represent an important step forward in the development of modern combustion engines, I’m now the market leader and installed in vehicles around the world. And, thanks to the combined expertise of MAHLE and BEHR, I’m the innovative result of outstanding teamwork!

The high-voltage motor is a sustainable drive concept that is ideal for electric vehicles.

The magnet-free high-voltage motor

“I don’t need any rare earth elements, so I’m very sustainable”

Electric vehicles will be an important part of future mobility. Because they need to be sustainable, suitable for everyday use, and cost-effective, MAHLE developed a drive concept that’s ideal for a wide range of electric vehicle types—me!

I’m the magnet-free high-voltage motor, and I can be used in anything from subcompacts through commercial vehicles. I’m particularly noted for the fact that I get along fine without magnets. That makes me more sustainable, because I don’t need any rare earth elements. What’s more, the way I operate means that electrical current is transmitted with no wear, and I’m also efficient in the partial-load range.

I plan to go into series production very soon, and I’ll be produced by our newly established Electronics and Mechatronics business unit. I’m helping MAHLE play an active role in shaping sustainable e-mobility!

The humidifier receives funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi).

Flat membrane humidifier for fuel cell vehicles

“I’m an example of MAHLE’s great innovative strength”

Supplying air to a fuel cell is extremely challenging. That’s because, unlike in a combustion engine, the air also needs to be humid so that the system works smoothly and efficiently. My role as the flat membrane humidifier is to ensure that the moisture content in the air is just right—protecting the fuel cell against damage!

I’m an example of MAHLE’s great innovative strength. I’m compact and robustly built, and I always keep the supply air at the optimum humidity level. I’m so innovative that I even receive funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi)!

MAHLE has been working on my development since 2017, with everything coming together in the fuel cell project house, and I’m set to go into series production in 2023. I’m helping MAHLE play an active role in shaping a key powertrain of the future!

The valve train helps engines to reduce their pollutant emissions.

Valve train system

“I am the lungs of the engine”

“If you were to think about the components in an engine as organs, then I’d be its lungs. That’s because I make sure that the engine breathes in the right amount of fresh air for the combustion process at the right time and breathes the burned air back out again.

I’m the valve train, and I’ve been a key part of the MAHLE portfolio since the acquisition of Wizemann (in 1991) and Pleuco (in 1994). When I joined the company, MAHLE greatly expanded its wide-ranging knowledge base covering all aspects of the engine—and the team has kept on developing me.

I’m very flexible nowadays, and my perfect timing allows me to help engines reduce their pollutant emissions, consume less fuel, and yet still deliver a higher performance.”

The E-compressor is the beating heart of the air conditioning and refrigerant circuit.


“I’m a key product for e-mobility”

To ensure the widespread acceptance of e-mobility among motorists, electric vehicles need to be efficient and provide a suitable cruising range for their particular area of application. Luckily, MAHLE has developed a key product for precisely this challenge: me, the electric air conditioning compressor!

I’m the beating heart of the air conditioning and refrigerant circuit, and I supply air conditioning for the cabin and the battery—with my help, electric vehicles can be charged quickly. In other words, large parts of the vehicle battery can be charged in just 15 minutes.

I’m so sustainable that, in 2019, I even won the CLEPA Innovation Award in the Environment category, beating 63 competitors! So, I’m a great success, because I’m helping MAHLE to improve the acceptance and status of e-mobility in the long term.

100 years of social engagement

Already our founders Hermann and Ernst Mahle attributed importance to combining long-term entrepreneurial thinking with social engagement.

The dividends of the Group are used to sponsor a multitude of social projects through the MAHLE Foundation. Furthermore, MAHLE itself participates in many initiatives with a high level of social commitment. Taking on responsibility for the common good as a “friendly neighbor” is an integral characteristic of the MAHLE culture.