Knorr-Bremse is a manufacturer of braking systems for rail and commercial vehicles that has operated in the field for over 100 years. The company also produces door systems for rail vehicles and torsional dampers. In 2009, the Group's workforce of over 14,000 achieved worldwide sales of EUR 2.761 billion.
The second main area of activity for Knorr-Bremse emerged in 1922, when they moved into pneumatic braking systems for commercial road vehicles. Knorr-Bremse was the first European company to develop a new pneumatic system that applied the brakes simultaneously to all four wheels of a truck as well as its trailer. The resultant reduction in braking distances made a significant contribution to improving road safety.
A small number of the Swedish light MG35/36 machine gun were also manufactured by Knorr for the German forces in the 1940-thies.
Knorr Bremse then bought Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems from Honeywell to make it the leading company in the brake system industry.
Knorr-Bremse develops air brakes for freight trains and becomes a major European manufacturer of rail vehicle brakes.
Development of air brakes for commercial vehicles commences.
The Hildebrand-Knorr (HiK) braking system used for express trains in 17 countries. 90% of all German trucks in the 7–16 t range are fitted with Knorr braking systems.
Development and manufacture of braking systems begins again in the western part of Germany, with the main emphasis on the HiK system. Company headquarters are relocated to Munich.
During a difficult phase in the company's development, Heinz Hermann Thiele acquires a majority share in Knorr-Bremse and launches a radical restructuring program and becomes a global player. The AAR DB60 control valve gains Knorr-Bremse access to the North American market.
Series production of pneumatic disc brakes for commercial vehicles begins.
Robert Bosch GmbH merges its activities in the electronic brake control sector with Knorr-Bremse Commercial Vehicle Systems. Knorr-Bremse takes a 60% share, giving it overall managerial control of the joint venture; Bosch retains a 20% share.
Knorr-Bremse takes over from Honeywell International Inc., USA its share of joint ventures in Europe, Brazil and the USA. Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems becomes a subsidiary of Knorr-Bremse AG. The Knorr-Bremse Group achieves sales of EUR 2.1 billion for the first time.