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Milestones in the German automotive industry

It all started exactly 125 years ago with a three-wheeled cart powered by a petrol engine. The history of the motor car in Germany is as varied as the makes and models that originated there.

1886: Carl-Friedrich Benz builds and patents the first petrol car, a three-wheeled vehicle with an internal combustion engine and electric ignition.

1887: Completely independently of Carl Benz, Gottlieb Daimler from Stuttgart builds a car and founds the motor company Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft.

1888: Bertha Benz and her sons carry out what is probably the world's most successful marketing stunt. They undertook the first 'long-distance drive' (from Mannheim to Pforzheim, a distance of about 90 kilometres) to demonstrate that the 'horseless carriage' was suitable for everyday use.

1897: The first International Motor Show (IAA) takes place at the Hotel Bristol in Berlin with eight motor cars on display.

1916: Aircraft manufacturer Bayerische Flugzeug-Werke (BFW) is established in Bavaria. Six years later, the site was taken over by BMW.

1926: Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft and Benz & Cie. merge to form Daimler-Benz AG.

1945: The first VW Beetle rolls off the production line in Wolfsburg. Until production was halted in 2002, the Beetle was the world's biggest selling car.

1950: Series production of the Type 2 T1 Volkswagen bus (camper van) begins. Demand was so great that a dedicated plant was opened in Hannover just six years later.

1950s: Affordable, 'bubble cars' such as the BMW Isetta became very popular in the post-war era.

1957: The state-owned car plant in Zwickau, formerly the Audi factory, produces the first Trabant. This East German compact car had an outer shell made of plastic, earning it the nickname the 'cardboard racer'.

1963: The Porsche 911, probably Germany's best known sports car, goes into production.

1991: German reunification marks the end of an era for East German cars, and on 30 April the last 'Trabi' rolls off the production line, straight into the museum. April direkt vom Fließband ins Museum.