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Rheinmetall AG
Type Joint stock company
Traded as FWBRHM
Industry Automotive, Defence
Founded 13 April 1889
Founder(s) Horder Bergwerks- und Huettenverein
Headquarters Düsseldorf, Germany
Key people Armin Papperger (CEO and chairman of the executive board), Klaus Greinert (Chairman of the supervisory board)
Products Automotive parts, military vehicles and systems
Revenue €4.704 billion (2012)[1]
Operating income €301 million (2012)[1]
Profit €190 million (2012)[1]
Total assets €4.899 billion (end 2012)[1]
Total equity €1.461 billion (end 2012)[1]
Employees 21,767 (end 2012)[1]
Website www.rheinmetall.com

Headquartered in Düsseldorf, Rheinmetall AG is an automotive parts supplier and military technology group. In fiscal 2012 (2011), the company’s 21,766 (21,516) employees generated sales of €4.7 billion (€4.4 billion). Rheinmetall was the tenth-largest European defence contractor in 2011.[1]

The Group’s Automotive unit had sales in fiscal 2012 of €2.369 billion, while sales of its Defence arm for the same period came to €2.335 billion.[1] Rheinmetall AG is listed on the German MDAX; its shares are traded on all German stock exchanges.[1]

Company structure[edit]


KSPG (previously known as Kolbenschmidt Pierburg) is the management company of Rheinmetall AG’s automotive technology branch. A globally operating maker of automotive components, KSPG plays a leading role in air supply, pollution reduction and pump technology, as well as the development, manufacture and sale of pistons, engine blocks and smooth bearings, including the supply of spare parts. Development of new products takes place in close cooperation with major automakers. In line with its strategic goals, the company has been organized into three autonomously operating divisions since May 2012: Hardparts, Mechatronics, and Motor Service.[2]

The company’s activities fall into seven business units, including Kolbenschmidt (which manufactures pistons); Large Pistons; Pierburg (components for air supply and pollution reduction); Pierburg Pump Technology (coolant, oil, recirculation and vacuum pumps); Plain Bearings (metal bearings and bearing elements as well as continuous casting elements); Aluminium Technology (engine blocks); and Motor Service (repair and maintenance sales for KSPG).[3]


Rheinmetall AG’s Defence arm is one of the world’s leading producers of systems and equipment for ground, air and naval forces.[2] Defence’s organizational structure reflects not only its strategy for growth but also the company’s increasingly international nature. Rheinmetall Defence has three divisions: Combat Systems, Electronic Solutions and Wheeled Vehicles. Its subsidiaries and affiliates are embedded in these three divisions.[4] Though based in Germany, Rheinmetall Defence now has production plants and representative offices in 16 countries on six continents, serving the armed forces, security services and law enforcement agencies of numerous nations around the globe.


The steam locomotive parked in Trebnje, Sevnica
The builder's plate on the steam locomotive parked in Trebnje, Slovenia
The steam locomotive parked in Trebnje, Slovenia, was produced in 1922 by Rheinische Metallwaren- und Maschinenfabrik from Düsseldorf.

Rheinmetall AG: Origins and Rise[edit]

Rheinmetall AG’s historical roots lie in the development and production of defence technology, primarily heavy artillery.

The company was first founded as Rheinische Metallwaaren- und Maschinenfabrik Actiengesellschaft on 13 April 1889 by the Horder Bergwerks- und Huettenverein (a Dortmund-based mining and steel conglomerate) and a consortium of banks. In the capable hands of Heinrich Ehrhardt (1840 -1928), Rheinmetall quickly rose to international prominence: when war broke out in 1914, Rheinmetall ordnance could be found in the arsenals of several of the chief protagonists.[5]

In 1925 the German Reich took up a majority stake in Rheinmetall. The company merged with Borsig in Berlin to become Rheinmetall-Borsig AG. Between 1938 and 1943 the company formed part of Reichswerke Hermann Göring, a huge wartime armaments concern. Bank der Deutschen Luftfahrt, a former German investment bank, assumed majority control of the company in 1943.[6]

During the Second World War, Rheinmetall-Borsig played an integral part in the German war effort. Among the weapons it manufactured were the MG 42, the Wehrmacht's main general-purpose medium machine gun, and the 88mm Flak anti-aircraft/antitank cannon. Relying heavily on conscripted labour, the company also produced cannon for ground and naval artillery systems, as well as fuses and ammunition. In the final years of the war most of its factories were destroyed in Allied air raids.[6]

In 1956 Rheinmetall-Borsig returned to private ownership. The Röchling Group sold the Borsig-Werke in Berlin, and Rheinmetall-Borsig was renamed Rheinmetall Berlin AG, finally becoming Rheinmetall AG in 1997. Starting in 1956, Rheinmetall became a major source of systems and equipment for the German Bundeswehr, supplying it with the MG 42/ MG 3 machine gun, the Rh 202 automatic cannon, and the 120mm smoothbore gun Leopard II main battle tank.[7]

The company acquired a majority stake in MaK System GmbH, a military vehicle maker in Kiel, in 1990. A decade later, the former MaK was merged with Henschel and KUKA (two other recent Rheinmetall acquisitions) to form Rheinmetall Landsysteme GmbH.[7]

Rheinmetall bought Mauser-Werke Oberndorf Waffensysteme in 1995, a leader in the medium-calibre field. In 1996 the company took up a majority interest in STN Atlas, an important European defence contractor. STN Atlas was later split into Atlas Elektronik and Rheinmetall Defence Electronics, the latter now a wholly owned subsidiary of Rheinmetall.[7]

In 1999 Rheinmetall took up a majority stake in Oerlikon Contraves AG of Zürich, a globally recognized supplier of air defence technology specializing in combined gun- and guided missile-based systems. The company was renamed “Rheinmetall Air Defence” in 2009.[8]

In another major move, Rheinmetall acquired Dutch defence company Stork PWV in March 2008, giving it a 64% share in the German-Dutch Boxer armoured personnel carrier procurement programme.[8]

Step by step, through a series of well-targeted buyouts and by setting up foreign subsidiaries, Rheinmetall Defence has emerged as a global player. The company is thus a driving force in the process of consolidation now underway in the European defence industry.

Recent acquisitions[edit]

Chempro GmbH (2007), 51% share [9]

ADS Gesellschaft für aktive Schutzsysteme mbH (2007) (76%) [9]

Zaugg Elektronik AG (2007) [9]

Stork PWV (2008) [10]

Rheinmetall Denel Munition (Pty) Ltd. (2008) [10]

LDT Laser Display Technology GmbH (2008) [10]

Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles GmbH (2010), a joint venture with MAN Truck & Bus, under Rheinmetall management (51%)[11]

Verseidag Ballistic Protection GmbH (2010) [11]

Laingsdale Engineering (Pty) Ltd. (2010) [11]

Simrad Optronics ASA (2010) [11]

Swiss Simtec (2011) [12]

Vingtech Corp. (2011) [12]

Rheinmetall Automotive: Past and Present[edit]

KSPG AG (the former Kolbenschmidt Pierburg AG) is the automotive engineering unit of Rheinmetall AG, its parent company. Pierburg has belonged to Rheinmetall since its takeover in 1986. Rheinmetall’s acquisition of Kolbenschmidt AG in 1997 and subsequent fusion with Pierburg a year later to create the company now known as KSPG AG, resulted in the Group’s new Automotive component.[13]

For much of the 20th century, Pierburg was synonymous with the core element of mixture formation in the engine, the carburetor. In 1928 Pierburg manufactured the first Solex carburetor for Hanomag, launching what would soon become the best-known Pierburg product. With the advent of the three-way catalytic converter, the end of carburetor production was at hand, and Pierburg shifted its focus to new topics, e.g. lowering fuel consumption and reducing emissions. Today Pierburg can look back on over forty years’ experience in exhaust gas recirculation, a technology indispensable to achieving current and future emission norms. Likewise proverbial is Pierburg’s competence in solenoid valves and actuators for various engine applications.[14]

Founded by Karl Schmidt in 1910, Kolbenschmidt originally produced oil-firing devices for smelting metals. A few years later, the first pistons were cast and in 1934 a workshop for machining pistons was set up. From then on, the company began supplying the automotive industry with machined pistons. In 1935 the company produced its first plain bearings. Besides reducing friction, important factors in present-day piston engineering include performance and strength, optimum piston cooling and reduced noise. Such requirements have led to features such as nanocoating and the use of steel pistons for commercial vehicle and passenger car engines.[15]

Today KSPG is one of the world’s top 100 auto parts makers, supplying the global automotive industry with a wide range of products, including emission control systems, fuel reduction components and pump technology. The company also develops, manufactures and markets pistons, engine blocks, cylinder heads and plain bearings – including spare parts – for the passenger car and truck sectors. Product development takes place in close cooperation with major international carmakers.[16]

In line with its strategic orientation, KSPG is organized into three divisions: Hardparts, Mechatronics and Motorservice. The company has around 12,000 employees and more than thirty production facilities in Europe, North and South America, Japan, India and China.[16]

Military products[edit]

Examples include:


WWII and pre-WWII products[edit]

In fiction[edit]

The Rheinmetall company name appears in video games spanning multiple genres, including the sci-fi title Cyberpunk 2020, historical grand strategy title Hearts of Iron II and the role-playing game Fallout.



External links[edit]