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The history of automotive engineering in Saxony
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Norbert Komorek
Mon Feb 06 2012, 02:21pm

Registered Member #4
Joined: Tue Jan 31 2012, 04:53pm
Posts: 4

1.    From the beginning until 1945

The automobile industry in Saxony, Germany can look back on a long and rich tradition. Following just some passenger car construction can be described because of the large scope of the topic. Big names like August Horch (Audi), S.K. Rasmussen (DKW) and Dr. Carl Hahn (Auto Union) are inextricably linked to the Saxon automobile industry.
Already in 1904 August Horch founded the "August Horch & Cie. Motorwagenwerke AG" in Zwickau. Because of disagreements with his chairmen Horch left the company and founded in 1909 a new one in Zwickau – “August Horch Automobilwerke GmbH Zwickau”.
Because of the name similarity to his former company (which was still existing), he had to rename his company in 1910 into „Audi Automobilwerke GmbH Zwickau“. “Audi” is just the Latin translation from “Horch” (which means “Listen!”).

The in Chemnitz located factory “Wanderer” had already produced milling machines, bicycles, motorcycles and typewriters, before in 1913 the first car "Puppchen" was produced in series.

Furthermore there was the “Zschopauer Motorenwerke AG J.S. Rasmussen” in Saxony – also known as DKW. In 1930 DKW began the production with his motorcycle and car production of the F-models (F1- F9) with the successful front wheel drive und two-stroke engine in Zwickau.

Because of the economic crises in 1929 DKW, Audi, Horch and Wanderer had some financial problems and the state bank of Saxony initiated the fusion of all four companies to the "Auto Union AG" as a parent company led by the state bank of Saxon in 1932. The single brands retained and were still produced in their companies, but were sold by the Auto Union. That was the reason the cars had 2 trademarks from 1934 to 1945. The trademark of the Auto Union were the 4 rings – a symbol of the merging of the 4 manufacturers. Just the Grand Prix race cars bore only the emblem of the 4 rings.
The federal state Saxony had ultimately 90% shares of the corporation.  
The seat of the Auto Union was relocated in 1936 from Zschopau to Chemnitz (during the GDR: Hospital Scheffelstraße).
In 1934 22% of all German cars were produced by the Auto Union (including Audi, DKW, Wanderer and Horch). Thus, the Auto Union (Saxony) was the second largest manufacturer in Germany after the “Adam Opel AG” (Hesse).
After 1945, the automotive industry broke down. Almost the most important production plants in Chemnitz and Zwickau were either destroyed in the war or were dismantled by the Soviet occupation.

2.    The years of 1946 to 1990

In 1949 the production of the prewar model DKW F8 (IFA F8) with permission the SMAD in Zwickau began. The body made of a wooden construction with artificial leather cover came from a plant in Dresden.

In 1951 the IFA F9 was produced, its production launch was already designed in 1940 by DKW, but fell victim to war production. The production of the F9 moved to Eisenach in Thuringia in 1955.
The first stand-alone new development after 1945 was the automobile AWZ P70 (with thermoset body), was built from 1955 to 1958 in Zwickau.
In 1957 the preproduction model of the car P50 (later Trabant) rolled off the line. With this car, the “Volkswagen” of the GDR was born. Only minor improvements to the vehicle were made until 1963.
In 1964, the Trabant 601 with a more modern body in series went into production. It only should have built until 1970. However all attempts of the manufacturers and designers to develop modern competitive cars at the end of the 1960s failed. The GDR- Government held a new car to be unnecessary and feared the additional costs.
So, the Trabant was produced until its cessation of production in the year 1990 with just a few improvements.
3.    From 1990 to date

 A complete reorientation of Saxon automotive engineering was necessary after the reunification in 1990. Through the commitment of VW, especially by Dr. Carl H. Hahn, Zwickau-Mosel and Chemnitz (engines) new cars could be produced.
After considerable investments in Mosel, Chemnitz and Dresden (Gläserne Manufaktur) the "VW Sachsen GmbH" has become a significant part of VW with the models of Golf, Passat, Phaeton, as well as the body production for the British Bentley. The example of VW also BMW followed with the new plant in Leipzig in 2005 (3 and 1 series model) and in 2002 Porsche with the new manufacturing plant in Leipzig (Cayenne and Panamera).
These developments show that the big automobile producers appreciate the long experience, reliability, good quality and training of the former Saxon manufacturers.

The Saxon passenger car manufacturers until 1945

Horch factory Zwickau                                                                                                                              
Founded by August Horch in 1904. After leaving the company in 1909 August Horch wasn´t allowed to use the brand any longer. The company produced under the old trademark.
Horch built especially representative and expensive large cars.

Audi car factory Zwickau GmbH

Audi was founded in 1910 in Zwickau after Horch had left his former company. In 1915 he
transformed the company into "Audi AG Zwickau". In 1928 J. S. Rasmussen (DKW) acquired the

majority of Audi. The share of sales of Audi at the later Auto-Union was only 0.1%.

The Audi brand was just new-founded in 1965 in Ingolstadt, Germany, and took over the 4 rings as
trademark, but without the add “Auto Union”.

Wanderer-Werke Chemnitz

Wanderer was founded in 1885 as a service station for bicycles by Winklhofer & Jaenicke. They used
to repair bikes and later on they produced bicycle, milling machines and typewriters too. The name
"Wanderer" was a result/translation of the English bicycle and automobile manufacturer "Rover".                                  

 The passenger car production began in 1913.

Zschopauer motor factory  (DKW) 

“DKW” was founded in 1904 by the Dane J. S. Rasmussen. After some precursor companies, it was
renamed into "Zschopauer Motorenwerke J. S. Rasmussen AG" in Zschopau in 1923.

In 1928 the car production began in Berlin-Spandau and in 1930 in Zwickau.

The trademark "DKW" (Dampfkraftwagen) was registered by Rasmussen in 1921.

The merger to the Auto Union

The Auto Union was founded in 1932 due to economic problems as a parent company for the factories
Horch, Audi, Wanderer and DKW. In 1936, the headquarters moved from Zschopau to
Chemnitz. President was Dr. Richard Bruhn of the Saxon State Bank, which ultimately held 90% of
corporate capital. The single brands retained and were still produced in their companies, but were sold
by the Auto Union. That was the reason the cars had 2 trademarks from 1934 to 1945. The trademark
of the Auto Union were the 4 rings – a symbol of the merging of the 4 manufacturers. Just the Grand
Prix race cars bore only the emblem of the 4 rings.

The revenue contribution of the individual brands of entire automobile production in 1938 amounted to Germany: DKW 17.9%, Wanderer 4.4%, Horch 1.0% and Audi 0.1%. The turnover grew by 65 million Reichsmark in 1933 to around 273 million Reichsmark in 1939, and 1939 DKW produced approximately 61,000 cars and motorcycles. The factory of Zschopau made the brand DKW motorcycles and at the time it was the world's largest motorcycle manufacturer.
The front-wheel drive DKW automobiles were produced at Audi in Zwickau. The popular engines in Germany began with the inexpensive products of “DKW”. The middle-class segment of the Auto Union took control of the brand “Wanderer”. Cars of the “Audi” brand were produced at Horch factory Zwickau. These were vehicles of sophisticated middle-class with front-wheel drive. The brand Horch unified prestige and tradition and had the highest market share in the luxury class with more than 50% in Germany.
The number of employees grew from about 8,000 in 1932 to 23,000 employees in 1938.

After the war, the Auto Union was expropriated and finally in 1948 deleted from the commercial register in Chemnitz.

[ Edited Mon Feb 06 2012, 03:02pm ]
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