From Loyal Customers to a Plant in Ingolstadt.
1947 - Customers and Employees Remain Loyal
Money is tight, but Auto Union has capital where it counts - in the fierce dedication if its workforce and customers. As Dr. Hahn, Auto Union head of sales, recalled: Loyal dealers, more than 90 percent of whom "waited for us, often making considerable financial sacrifices to do so" and customers "...our backbone and our strength. Owners and enthusiasts eagerly anticipated everything we produced and never lost their faith in our products."
1948 - Dismantlement and Expropriation
On the orders of the Soviet military administration in Germany, the Saxon plants of Auto Union were dismantled in 1945 as reparations. Following this, the company’s entire assets were expropriated without compensation. On August 17, 1948 Auto Union AG of Chemnitz was deleted from the Commercial Register.
1949 - A New Company in a New Place
A new car manufacturing plant was set up in Ingolstadt with the help of loans from the Bavarian state government and Marshall Plan aid. Auto Union GmbH was established in Ingolstadt on September 3, 1949. Based on established DKW principles - front-wheel drive and two-stroke engine - production of a small but sturdy 125 cc motorcycle and a DKW delivery van began the same year.
1950 - First DKW Passenger Car After the War
In August 1950, Auto Union produced its first post-war passenger car. The DKW Meisterklasse F 89 P was available as a sedan and a four-seater Karmann convertible. Since the facilities in Ingolstadt were not adequate for the production of this model, Auto Union used the premises of the company Rhein-metall-Borsig AG in Dusseldorf. DKW vehicles were built there until the end of 1961.
1951 - NSU Motorcycle World Record
As early as 1945, a modest number of motorcycles were built again at NSU in Neckarsulm. Within just a few years the plant became one of the most important manufacturers in this sector. NSU motorcycles were state of the art. On April 12, 1951, the motorcycle racer Wilhelm Herz succeeded in setting a new world record on a section of the Munich-Ingolstadt autobahn by reaching a speed of 290 km/h on a supercharged 500 cc NSU racing motorcycle.
1953 - "Sonderklasse" with Three-cylinder Engine
Auto Union launched a new three-cylinder model in time for the 1953 German Motor Show. The "3=6 Sonderklasse" was developed before the war in Chemnitz and was supposed to go into volume production in 1940. The name "3=6" referred to the fact that a three-cylinder, two-stroke engine had the power characteristic of a six-cylinder, four-stroke engine thanks to twice the number of combustion cycles.
1955 - NSU the World's Biggest Cycle Manufacturer
In 1955, NSU Werke AG in Neckarsulm proudly announced a total production volume of 342,583 two-wheeled vehicles (including 45,747 bicycles). This made NSU the world's leading manufacturer of two-wheelers. At the same time, motorcycle euphoria had reached its climax. As their wealth increased, customers became more and more demanding about their personal mode of transport. The car became the people's dream during the economic miracle years.
1957 - NSU Returns to Car Manufacturing
Following an absence of almost thirty years, NSU returned to car manufacturing in 1957. The company deliberately opted for a small car, designed for average earners and motorcycle owners. The NSU Prinz was unveiled at the 1957 German Motor Show and, from this date on, started to offset the losses of the collapsing motorcycle market.
1958 - Daimler-Benz Takes Over Auto Union
At the instigation of leading entrepreneur Friedrich Karl Flick, Daimler-Benz AG acquired the majority of and, subsequently, the remaining shares in Auto Union GmbH on April 24, 1958. From this date until the end of 1964, Auto Union was a fully owned subsidiary of the Stuttgart-based Daimler Group.
1959 - Foundation Stone Laid for a New Plant in Ingolstadt
When Auto Union stopped all motorcycle production activities in autumn of 1958, its new car plant in Ingolstadt went into operation in the summer of 1959. This was one of the most modern production facilities in Europe. In 1962, the Auto Union plant in Düsseldorf was sold to Daimler-Benz.