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Fresh start in Ingolstadt

In 1945, after the war had ended, Auto Union AG's premises were located in the zone occupied by the Soviet forces, who expropriated its assets, dismantled the plant and had the company removed from the Commercial Register of the city of Chemnitz in 1948.

Leading members of Auto Union's senior management had already moved to Bavaria at the end of the war, and in late 1945 a depot for Auto Union parts was set up in the historic garrison city of Ingolstadt. These tentative efforts to relaunch operations led to the founding of a new company named Auto Union GmbH on September 3, 1949, with the purpose of upholding the automotive tradition of the four rings.

The first products with the four-ring badge built in this era were well-established DKW models with two-stroke engines. These basic but robust and reliable cars and motorcycles were ideal for the austere circumstances of the post-war years. The DKW F 89 L rapid delivery van and the DKW RT 125 W motorcycle were unveiled at the Hanover Export Fair in early 1949. These models established automotive manufacturing in Ingolstadt. In parallel, the company was working on a DKW car, which went into production at a new plant in Düsseldorf in the summer of 1950.

From 1954 onwards, Friedrich Flick gradually acquired a large stake in the equity of Auto Union GmbH. His strategy was to find a strong partner for Auto Union in the medium term. In April 1958, Daimler-Benz AG acquired 88 percent of Auto Union's shares and in the following year the Ingolstadt company became a fully-owned subsidiary.