With ca. 1.3 million workplaces and an export rate of 50%, the Rheinland is one of Europe’s most important economic (and automotive) region. The Ford plant in Cologne and the German headquarters of Citroën, Mazda, Peugeot, Renault, Toyota and Volvo as well as more than 130 suppliers make the region a leader in Germany’s automobile industry.
In 1930 the American pioneer of automobile construction Henry Ford found these words of praise for Cologne: »Our People have searched far and wide, have searched for a long time, and they have had the choice between many a town and place but nowhere did they find such ideal transport connections, by water or by air as here in Cologne, and in particular in the industrial area of the city.« Five years before, Ford had started its production line in Berlin.
The motor vehicle industry in Cologne has always been known as the birthplace of the automobile. In 1864
Nikolaus August Otto, the discoverer of the four-stroke motor, founds the first motor-building factory in Cologne. Five years later he founds the »Gasmotorenfabrik Deutz« (Deutz Gas Motor Factory), today‘s Deutz AG. In 1872
Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach work for Deutz as factory managers.
Milestones in automobile history
The automobile pioneers August Horch (»Audi«) and Ettore Bugatti develop their first automobiles in Cologne in 1899. The Nürburgring, situated 100 km southwest of Cologne in the Eifel hills, is opened in 1927 as a motor car race-track. Citroën acquires in 1926 an assembly works in Cologne and makes it the headquarters for its German operations in 1950.
Konrad Adenauer, Cologne‘s first Lord Mayor, inaugurates Germany‘s first autobahn between Cologne and Bonn in 1932.
Deutsche Renault AG moves to Brühl near Cologne in 1960 and is followed 40 years later by Nissan. Toyota starts operations in Cologne in 1971 and Mazda transfers its headquarters in Germany to Leverkusen in 1978.
Michael Schumacher from Kerpen near Cologne wins the Formula I in 1994 for the first time with Benetton-Ford. In 1995 Volvo transfers its company headquarters to Cologne; the company has been a part of the Ford Motor Company since 1999. Cologne becomes the headquarters of Ford Europe in 1998. From 2002 to 2009, Toyota enters the Formula I with the help of the Cologne Development Centre.
Today, prominent names reside in the Cologne economic area: Citroën, DA TrucksF, Ford, Mazda, Nissan Renault, Peugeot, Toyota and Volvo. They have made the region the most important motor vehicle distribution centre in Germany, employing almost 28,000 workers and generating 5.6 billion profit with an export share of 65 per cent.
The key factor for the prosperity of the Cathedral city and its area has always been its outstandingly convenient location. Cologne is situated at the heart of the central region within the European economic community. With a population of 105 million within a radius of 500 kilometres, this central region is bordered by the cities of Paris, London, Hamburg and Stuttgart. This is where over 30 per cent of the EC's gross domestic product is produced.
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