KOSTAL – a family-owned company that can tell a lot of stories from its long history

KOSTAL – a family-owned company that can tell a lot of stories from its long history

The KOSTAL company history is the solid foundation on which we are building our future.
Why is our history so important to us? Because our history explains how and why we have become what we are today. KOSTAL is a technology company and a family-owned business. These two are inseparably intertwined.
For the Kostal corporate family, the company always was and is the first consideration. For this reason the name of the company KOSTAL is always written in upper-case letters. And nothing can better illustrate how we think and act than our history. That is why it is so important to us.
Our technological innovative strength and our growth over more than 100 years is based on the entrepreneurial spirit of the Kostal family and the passion of our employees, working together constantly for our joint success.
  • Family
  • Innovation
  • Growth
  1. 1912

    1912 KOSTAL Logo
    1912 Erste Generation

    First generation

    Turbulent times, the world is in upheaval and the First World War is looming. These were the times in which Leopold Kostal founded the “Processing facilities for technical insulation” in Lüdenscheid and, with a workforce of eight people, starts producing connectors and switches.

  2. 1926

    1926 Erste Automobilprodukte

    First products for automobiles

    In 1926, the year of the first Mille Miglia and the first “Black Friday” in German history, Leopold Kostal made the courageous and far-reaching strategic decision to start manufacturing products for the automotive industry by developing the first direction indicator. The direction indicator developed by Leopold Kostal for automobiles is one of the first of many patented innovations by KOSTAL, which today can be found in vehicles of virtually all of the world’s leading automobile manufacturers.

  3. 1927

    1927 Wiesenstraße


    The first KOSTAL new building is completed in Wiesenstraße in Lüdenscheid. The number of employees grows to 120.

  4. 1935

    1935 Zweite Generation

    Second generation

    Dark times in Europe, the world is just starting to recover from the major global economic crisis, the Weimar Republic has collapsed, National Socialism is gaining momentum in Germany. In Lüdenscheid, Kurt, the son of Leopold Kostal, joins the company, and they make the joint decision to concentrate on developing and manufacturing products for the automotive industry.

  5. 1947

    1947 Schwerpunkt Automobil

    The focus shifts to the automotive industry

    Due to the war, the number of employees fell to around 150 by 1945. At the end of the war, production ceased entirely and KOSTAL was only permitted to resume production in 1947, and began with 40 employees.

  6. 1954

    1954 Schalterleiste

    KOSTAL develops the first switch panel

    A massive boom in Germany as a result of the “Wirtschaftswunder” (economic miracle) is also experienced by the automotive industry. KOSTAL develops and launches the first patented switch panel on the European market.

  7. 1958

    1958 - Abblendlicht

    KOSTAL patents the first dimming headlight

    With a further patented innovation, the dimmed headlight, KOSTAL once again provides a ground-breaking impulse for the automotive industry.

  8. 1960

    1960 Standort Halver

    German headquarters - then and now

    The tangible growth and success of KOSTAL is reflected in expansions and the founding of new production facilities. The first subsidiary is built in Halver – several kilometres from the main headquarters in Lüdenscheid. Although KOSTAL expands internationally over the following decades to extend its customer base, the company emphatically remains headquartered in Germany. The 12th German subsidiary in Hagen therefore opens 45 years after the founding of the first subsidiary in Halver.

  9. 1962

    1962 50 Jahre KOSTAL

    50 years of KOSTAL

    KOSTAL celebrates its 50th anniversary and looks back on half a century of history which has seen many changes. Despite all economic and political crises, KOSTAL has succeeded in growing continuously and, with countless innovations, has established and consolidated its market position as supplier to the automotive industry.

  10. 1972

    1972 Dritte Generation

    Third generation

    Dipl.-Kaufmann Helmut Kostal joined the 3rd generation of the company.

  11. 1973

    1973 Elektronikprodukte

    Development of the first electronic products

    KOSTAL expands its product portfolio and develops the first electronic products. As the products become more compact and complex, the more rapid the rate of expansion of the company also becomes due to its considerable technical expertise.

    1973 - Auslandsstandort

    The first overseas expansion

    A decisive year in the history of KOSTAL that guides its destiny. Despite the oil crisis, Watergate affair and the Vietnam War, Helmut Kostal made the decision to found the first overseas KOSTAL plant in Mexico to allow the company to grow internationally.

  12. 1982

    1982 KOSTAL Logo
  13. 1987

    1986 Sensoren

    Sensors are incorporated into the production program

    KOSTAL establishes the “Sensors” product range and in turn has the opportunity to revolutionise the automobile market by developing a patented innovation: the first door control unit with pinch protection.

  14. 1988

    1988 Bellmerei

    Facility “An der Bellmerei

    As a result of the rapid growth, KOSTAL urgently requires new production areas and makes the decision to build a completely new plant “An der Bellmerei” in Lüdenscheid in three phases (1979 / 1984 / 1988), and this is still the company headquarters today.

  15. 1994

    1994 Regensensor

    KOSTAL designs and develops the rain sensor

    KOSTAL presents the automotive industry with the first commercially available rain sensor, another innovative milestone in automobile applications.

  16. 1995

    1995 Geschäftsbereiche

    As far as its business divisions are concerned, KOSTAL aspires to make

    The company decides to apply the considerable technical expertise acquired over decades in the automotive industry in other markets. This decision made by KOSTAL to diversify was marked by the founding of the Automotive Electrical Systems, Industrial Electronics and Testing Technology (SOMA GmbH) business divisions. In 2005, the Connectors and Industrial Electronics business divisions become standalone private limited companies.

  17. 1998

    1998 Lenksäulenmodul

    The steering column – from simple switch to complex module.

    “simplicity out of complexity”. The more complex the functions are the greater the challenge to develop simple, reliable and cost-effective solutions for the specific application. This is where the history and the knowledge of the company and its employees acquired and continuously developed over many decades really comes into its own. What were simple switches in former times have over the decades developed into complex modules, the KOSTAL steering column modules for example, which have made us a market leader and are testament to our integration expertise. In 1998, KOSTAL revealed the first mechatronics module – the W220 steering column module for the Daimler S-Class.

  18. 2007

    2007 Fahrassistenz

    The driver-assist camera – pioneer in autonomous driving

    KOSTAL is granted the patent for the front-end camera for driver-assistance systems. KOSTAL therefore becomes a pioneer in the development of driver-assist systems and autonomous driving, once again demonstrating its innovative prowess.

  19. 2008

    2008 Die Standorte


    35 years have passed since KOSTAL founded its first overseas production facility in Mexico. KOSTAL now has facilities in 21 countries across 4 continents with employees from 50 home countries speaking 45 languages and has therefore established a global presence for its customers as world market leader for many of its products.

    2008 Vierte Generation

    Fourth generation

    Dipl.-Oec. Andreas Kostal joins the company as 4th generation member of the Kostal family. Two years later, Helmut Kostal officially “hands over the baton” and role of Managing Director to his son Andreas. This is also typical for KOSTAL: a timely and carefully prepared transfer from one generation to the next which ensures that experience acquired is also passed on and that new impulses are generated.

  20. 2012

    2012 KOSTAL Logo
    2012 100 Jahre KOSTAL

    100 years of KOSTAL

    KOSTAL celebrates the 100-year anniversary of the company with many guests, customers, suppliers, public figures from all over the world and, most importantly, with all of its employees who have shaped the history of the company and made it what it is today. And the future? We are sure that KOSTAL will also successfully carry its history forward into the future because it adheres to its values, one of which is: “Building the future, today.”

  21. 2015

    Driver Monitoring

    First automatic emergency brake function based on a mono camera.

  22. 2020

    Onboard Charger

    Efficient charging of battery vehicles in large vehicle platforms in series production.