On May 3, Deutz hosted a ceremony in Cologne to celebrate its 160th anniversary. Guests from the business community, the political arena, and society gathered together at the former site of the world’s oldest engine manufacturer. This year’s Nicolaus August Otto Award was also presented at the ceremony. 

Our 160-year history shows what can be achieved through the power of innovation and a belief in your own abilities. In some of the debates that we are having as a country right now, I see an absence of exactly this – a belief in our strengths and courage and optimism,” said CEO Sebastian C. Schulte in his speech. The Deutz CEO thanked current and former employees and called for the internal combustion engine to be made more climate-friendly: “The internal combustion engine is at the heart of German industry. More than 600,000 people work in the engine industry and their livelihoods depend directly or indirectly on its future. The example of Germany’s solar industry shows that once something is gone, it doesn’t come back. And for the foreseeable future, at least in the commercial vehicle sector, we won’t be able to do without combustion engine technology. We have to accept this for the good of our economy.” 

In 1864, the entrepreneur and inventor Nicolaus August Otto and the engineer and industrialist Eugen Langen founded the company that would go on to become today’s Deutz AG. Their invention of the atmospheric gas-powered engine set entire industries in motion. Today, Deutz supplies drives that move vehicles and machines around the world – on construction sites, on roads, and in agriculture – and is working to make its product ecosystem climate-neutral by offering intelligent maintenance, innovative solutions, and more sustainable engines. 

Hendrik Wüst, Minister President of North Rhine-Westphalia, emphasized this role in his speech: “Deutz has been a pioneer in engine development for 160 years and throughout that time has been an engine in its own right – driving innovation, progress and prosperity, and advances in automotive engineering. Today, Deutz is a global company that supplies state-of-the-art drive systems for vehicles and machines all over the world. It also exemplifies the huge entrepreneurial potential that still exists in our country. The state government of North Rhine-Westphalia is actively working to create an environment in which Deutz and companies like it can continue to thrive, innovate, and invest and thus enhance our standing as a region of commerce and industry.” 

Henriette Reker, Mayor of Cologne, used her speech to highlight the Company’s ability to innovate and underlined its importance for the city: “Cologne is proud to have Deutz as its engine of innovation. The Company has been creating high-quality jobs for 160 years now, making a vital contribution to progress and prosperity in the city. I am confident that this will carry on in the future and that Deutz will play its part in the shift to a climate-neutral economy by offering increasingly low-emission and alternative drive systems.” 

The Nicolaus August Otto Award (NAO)

The Company also used the ceremony to present its Nicolaus August Otto Award. This award, now in its sixth year, is endowed with prize money of €30,000 and recognizes achievements that are helping to shape the world of tomorrow. The 2024 winner is Professor Denise Fischer-Kreer from the University of Bonn, who researches and lectures on entrepreneurial behavior in the faculty of agriculture. She was presented with the award by Jan-Hendrik Mohr, CEO of farm equipment manufacturer Claas, whose commendation speech emphasized the “need for innovation and entrepreneurship in agriculture”. 

Read here about the previous edition.


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