Since 1899, Denes, a Vienna-based company later known as Denes & Friedmann, had been responsible for the sale of Bosch products in Austria-Hungary. The partnership was a harmonious one, and the contract was extended on several occasions.
The situation did not change until the Austrian ministry of war started repeatedly asking Robert Bosch to open a branch factory in Austria, an ally of Germany, and begin producing goods there too.
This would have made the countries ruled by the Habsburg monarchy less dependent on foreign exports and spelled relief for its military efforts in the first world war. Yet Robert Bosch believed that setting up separate production facilities to cover the relatively low demand in the empire along the Danube would be uneconomical, since the products would have been too expensive.
To cooperate with the authorities, however, Robert Bosch decided to at least take over the sale of his own products in Austria-Hungary. In late 1917, the preparations for the founding of the company and the opening of sales offices began.
In 1918, Bosch took over the sale of its products and established Robert Bosch GmbH, Vienna, which was followed by the opening of a dedicated sales office at Untere Weissgerberstrasse 20.
Shortly after the company’s founding, rising demand for lighting and starter systems, as well as for new products such as searchlights and horns, led to the storerooms becoming too small. To make matters worse, the available workshop space did not offer enough room for installation and assembly. Construction started on an administrative building in August 1922, and Vienna-based Bosch GmbH was able to move into the new building with an adjoining Bosch Service workshop at Spittelauer Lände 5 in 1924.
Robert Bosch himself made an appearance at the grand opening on May 3. In a short speech, he also stressed the successful economic cooperation between Germany and Austria.
However, another war put an end to Bosch’s presence in Vienna in the years that followed. It was not until the 1950s, when the economy returned to normal and trade was liberalized once again, that Bosch was able to set up subsidiaries in Austria. Bosch named Elektro-Diesel Handelsgesellschaft mbH in Vienna its sole agency – first for motor vehicles and later for additional products.
The nascent economic growth increased the scale of business at Elektro-Diesel to such an extent that the company was reorganized as a stock corporation in 1960. Following acquisition of the shares in 1982, the company went on to become Robert Bosch AG, Vienna (RBOS).
After the iron curtain
Starting in 1991, after the opening of the Iron Curtain, Robert Bosch AG, Vienna, took on the task of establishing sales companies in the formerly socialist countries of eastern Europe. In Austria, Bosch has consistently continued to expand its market position in various countries and divisions, not least by purchasing shares and taking over companies.
Heavy investments in development and future technologies, like those made at the development location in Linz and at the new Austrian headquarters in Vienna, as well as the acquisition of the Austrian software company Zeno Track, illustrate the importance of the Austrian regional subsidiary.
As a historian I am the contact person for historical questions concerning the countries of Southeastern and Eastern Europe, Switzerland, Austria and Africa. I am also responsible for the historiography of the German Bosch locations.
Besides, I offer guided tours through our exhibition of Bosch history and write for various publications.
After studying German language and literature and history in Marburg and Tübingen and raising two lively children, my Greyhound keeps me on my toes. Yes, he does!