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Founded 1905 in Berlin
Headquarters Munich, Germany
Key people

Klaus Deller, chairman of the executive board

Heinz Hermann Thiele, chairman of the supervisory board
Products braking systems (rail and road)
Revenue €4.3 billion (2013)[1]
Number of employees
20,833 (as of Dec 31, 2013)[2][3]
Georg Knorr (1859–1911)
Bruno Kunze (1854–1935)
Knorr-Bremse GmbH, Berlin (1908)
Süddeutsche Bremsen-AG, Munich (1924)
Knorr-Bremse AG headquarters today, Munich

Knorr-Bremse ("Bremse" meaning brake) is a manufacturer of braking systems for rail and commercial vehicles that has operated in the field for over 100 years. Other products in Group's portfolio include intelligent door systems, control components, air conditioning systems for rail vehicles, and torsional vibration dampers, transmission control systems for commercial vehicles. In 2013, the Group's workforce of over 19,000 achieved worldwide sales of EUR 4.3 billion. The Group has over 90 locations in 27 countries.[4]



Engineer Georg Knorr established Knorr-Bremse GmbH in 1905 in Boxhagen-Rummelsburg, Neue Bahnhofstraße, near Berlin (since 1920 part of Berlin-Friedrichshain). Its production of railway braking systems derived from a company ("Carpenter & Schulze") founded in 1883. In 1911 the company merged with "Continentale Bremsen-GmbH" to found Knorr-Bremse Aktiengesellschaft (AG). From 1913 onwards a second manufactoring plant, new headquarters, a heating plant and other annex buildings were erected.

The initial basis for Knorr's commercial success was provided by an agreement with the Prussian State Railways, which at that time had formed the Prussian-Hessian Railway Company, to supply single-chamber express braking systems, first for passenger and later on for freight trains. The "Knorr Druckluft-Einkammerschnellbremse" (K1) - a compressed-air brake - and its derivatives offered considerably enhanced safety performance compared with traditional systems.
In the early twentieth century, train guards still had to operate brakes by hand, from so-called "brake vans". The first pneumatic brakes were of a basic design, but before long, indirect automatic systems using control valves were developed. See History of rail transport in Germany for an overview.


In 1920 the manufacturing plant of the first Bayerische Motoren-Werke AG (BMW, established in 1917/1918) located in Munich, Moosacher Straße, became a subsidiary of Knorr-Bremse, delivering brake systems as Süddeutsche Bremsen-AG for the Bavarian Group Administration, the former "Royal Bavarian State Railways".
There was no further interest in motor engines for aircraft and automobiles. The engine construction and the company name "BMW" were sold in 1922 to financier Camillo Castiglioni to be combined with the Bayerische Flugzeugwerke AG (BFW, located not far away), establishing the company a second time. For details see History of BMW and BFW/Messerschmitt.

1922 until 1927 the new main manufacturing plant in Berlin at the Hirschberger Straße/Schreiberhauer Straße next to the Berlin Ringbahn was erected, a tunnelled road combined both the old and the new site.

The second main area of activity emerged in 1922, when Knorr moved into pneumatic braking systems for commercial road vehicles. The company was the first in Europe to develop a 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 1940s.


The company is relocated at the Süddeutsche Bremsen-AG plant in Munich, the former sites in the eastern part of Berlin being expropriated after 1945.

In 2002 Knorr takes over from Honeywell International Inc. its share of joint ventures in Europe, Brazil and the USA, buying Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems to make it the leading company in the brake system industry.

1900 Georg Knorr invents Knorr-Einkammerschnellbremse (K1) compressed-air brake for passenger trains.
1905–24 Knorr founds Knorr-Bremse GmbH near Berlin. Knorr-Bremse develops air brakes for trains and becomes a major European manufacturer of rail vehicle brakes.

Bruno Kunze and Knorr invent Kunze-Knorr brake, later enhanced to Hildebrand-Knorr brake with Wilhelm Hildebrand.

1911 Georg Knorr dies during reconvalescence in Davos, Switzerland. Foundation of Knorr-Bremse Aktiengesellschaft.
1918–27 Kunze-Knorr (KK) automatic compressed-air brake equipped by the Deutsche Reichsbahn on passenger and freight trains.
1920 Former BMW plant in Munich becomes a subsidiary, manufacturing braking systems as Süddeutsche Bremsen-AG.
1923 Development of air brakes for commercial road vehicles and trailers.
1931–39 The Hildebrand-Knorr (HiK) braking system is used for express trains in 17 countries.

By that time 90% of all German lorries in the 7–16 t range are fitted with Knorr braking systems.

1945–53 Company headquarters are relocated from Berlin to Munich (former Süddeutsche Bremsen-AG) in Bavaria.

Development and manufacture of braking systems resumed in the western part of Germany, with emphasis on HiK system.

1955 Introduction of the Knorr-Bremse mit Einheitswirkung (KE) braking system for passenger and freight trains.
1972 Anti-lock braking system for commercial road vehicles.
1985–93 During a difficult phase in the company's development, Heinz Hermann Thiele acquires a majority share and launches a radical restructuring program.

Knorr-Bremse becomes a global player. The AAR DB60 control valve for freight trains gains access to North American market.

1992 Pneumatic disc brake for commercial vehicles introduced. Series production begins in 1996.
1999 Robert Bosch GmbH merges 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.
2002 Knorr-Bremse takes over Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems from Honeywell, Bendix becoming a subsidiary.

Knorr-Bremse Group achieves sales of EUR 2.1 billion for the first time. Modular braking system for locomotives is introduced.

2004 Oil free compressor for railway vehicles. System-compressor with coupling for road vehicles.
2005 Centenary of operation.


Rail vehicles[edit]

Knorr-Bremse not only produces complete braking systems for all types of rolling stock but also door systems, toilets, air conditioning, couplings and windscreen wipers. In 2000, it purchased British manufacturer, Westinghouse Brakes (formerly the brakes division of Westinghouse Brake and Signal Company Ltd), from Invensys, and subsequently moved its operations from Chippenham to the nearby English town of Melksham, Wiltshire.[5]

Since 2002, Knorr-Bremse has been working on variable gauge systems for more efficient solutions to break of gauge problems.

Commercial vehicles[edit]

Knorr-Bremse has been developing and manufacturing braking systems for commercial vehicles since 1920, for trucks and semi-trailer tractor units over 6 tonnes, buses, trailers or special vehicles.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Press release: Knorr-Bremse achieves sales of 4.3 billion euros". Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  2. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ "Knorr-Bremse Group —- Facts & Figures 2012" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  4. ^ "Knorr-Bremse Worldwide". Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  5. ^ Invensys investor relations news release, April 25, 2000 Invensys Sells Westinghouse Brakes to Knorr-Bremse. Retrieved from the Internet Archive on March 30, 2008.

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