On October 2, 1930, Henry Ford laid the cornerstone of an automobile factory in the German city of Cologne. Although the American company Ford already had smaller plants in Germany for assembling cars imported from America, the decision was made to build a real factory in Cologne. The impetus for this was General Motors ’purchase of Opel, bringing Ford’s main American competitor into the German car industry on a large scale. Niehl, a suburb of Cologne located right on the Rhine, was chosen as the location for Ford’s factory.
The land for the construction of the factory was acquired in collaboration with the then mayor of Cologne, the famous Konrad Adenauer (who became the German chancellor about twenty years later). The laying of the foundation stone in Niehl was attended in person by Henry Ford and Konrad Adenauer. At first, the factory mostly only assembled cars, but over time, an increasing share of work in it was represented by its own production of vehicles.
The German factory produced specific Ford models adapted to the German market (eg without V-8 engines typical of the USA). German models were also given recognizable German names (e.g. Ford Köln, Ford Rheinland). Around 1938, Ford reached number four in Germany in car production, behind Opel, Mercedes-Benz and DKW. In 1939, the Ford Taunus was launched, the name of which was later used successfully for a number of generations.