The slightly alternative
history of German automotive engineering

Petri+Lehr 1902 Gebäude in Offenbach
 

1902

Vehicles, yes. But very different ones. This is what the pioneers Adam Wilhelm Lehr and Wilhelm Petri must have thought in 1902. The founders quickly came up with a unique selling proposition for the new factory: "self-propelled vehicles for the disabled" was the concept. From simple chairs on wheels for pushing to special, motorized vehicles, everything for improved and self-determined mobility for persons with physical limitations.

The requirements were the same as today: each person is different. Individual solutions were always, and still are, required to restore mobile freedom, self-determination and a bit of self-respect to the afflicted. The result: lots of patents and unique vehicles with functional extras.

An exciting history with impressive continuity. Petri+Lehr still continues to combine various specialist fields such as metalworking, upholstering and engineering; Petri+Lehr still continues to focus on self-determined mobility for persons with physical limitations - for 113 years and counting.

Mobile in any case is still Mobility in any case

Petri+Lehr Patent, Type VH 20 R, Fahrzeugbaugeschichte, Historie
 

1909

Back to the beginnings. After just 7 years of partnership, Adam Wilhelm Lehr had to assume sole control following Wilhelm Petri's sudden death in 1909. However, that did not halt the company's success. At the first exhibition in Gießen, under the fascinating name "Gießen trade exhibition 1914 for Upper Hesse and the surrounding districts under the protectorate of his royal highness the Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig", Petri+Lehr was awarded the golden exhibition medal and an honorary prize.

1917

Rapid growth necessitated relocation in 1917. The second followed just three years later in 1920. In Offenbach, the old boiler house was torn down and the bricks used as the enclosure for the factory premises. The first floor was home to the various workshops, the assembly department and showrooms. The office rooms were on the 2nd floor. This is where the products were conceived and designed.

 

1940

During the war, an air raid in 1940 destroyed the building of the oldest and largest "special factory for power-operated invalid vehicles". Alternatives were found in the production facilities in Seligenstadt and Hainstadt, and a mere three weeks later, production of self-propelled, motor and lever-operated vehicles and push wheelchairs was underway again.

Petri+Lehr Patent, erster zusammen faltbarer Rollstuhl,Faltfahrer 700, 1952
 

1952

In parallel with the "Oktoberfest" in 1952, Petri+Lehr presented one of its most important innovations in Munich: the "folded vehicle for disabled people" designed by Berliner Gerd Schladebach, who suffered from the consequences of spinal poliomyelitis. Petri+Lehr thus obtained the worldwide patent for the first folding wheelchair. "They design, test and help at Petri+Lehr." wrote the Offenbach-Post (25.09.1952, issue 222)

Petri+Lehr flourished. Individual adaptations and initial prototypes were built in the workshops. Production was undertaken on a wide range of machines. Supplemented by the assembly department and the exhibition hall for the numerous different models. Motorized or not, on three wheels or four, with or without roof. The product range extended from wheelchairs to fully motorized small vehicles and diverse forms of patient transport, including elevators for hospitals and the like. Today, some of these fascinating ambulance vehicles can be admired in museums (including "ErfinderZeiten" in Schramberg and "Vehikelsammlung Bert Grimmer" in Eppelheim).

Petri+Lehr GH Patent 1960
 

1964

Subsequent manufacturers regarded the Petri+Lehr brand with envy. First and foremost entrepreneur Wilhelm Meyer, also a producer of wheelchairs since 1936, who purchased Petri+Lehr without further ado in 1964. Externally, however, the brand remained independent.

The growth in automobiles as mass products changed the requirement profile. The production of driving aids, modification systems and entry aids for car drivers with physical handicaps was joined by the sale of replacement parts and accessories for wheelchairs, which were supplied to medical supply stores. Additional third-party products extended the product range.

In parallel with internal production, Petri+Lehr increasingly developed into a modification company for diverse vehicle models with individual components.

1998

Petri+Lehr established close ties with the automotive industry early on, and when the industry committed to traceable, process-oriented and customer-focused work with constant risk control, Petri+Lehr complied with the new German certification a few years later. Since 1996, Petri+Lehr has been complying with the annually audited quality management system, the DIN ISO 9001 certification and the additional German Federal Motor Transport Authority certificate.

In 1998, Petri+Lehr presented two important milestones, the "IR remote control" and the "Multima® Hand Control" at the IAA in Frankfurt and the RehaCare in Düsseldorf. Time and again, in-depth knowledge, direct contact with customers and a love of inventing have led to innovative products: the "Multi-Function Steering Knobs" (MDF1) as a further development of the IR remote control and the "Multima®2".

Petri+Lehr Island Expierence 2011
 

2006 - 2013

In 2006, Petri+Lehr moved to its present site in Dietzenbach. In 2007, the Multima®2 evolved and a completely new, universal left accelerator pedal system was developed. Just one year later, in 2008, Petri+Lehr presented the MFD2 (Multi-Function Steering Knob), followed by the new turn-push Multima®3 Hand Control in 2010.

Innovative products are one thing. Unique events are another. First an idea, then unforgettable. Jörg Federer, the current authorized signatory, came up with and headed the "Iceland Experience 2011", the world's first off-road event for people with handicaps. Seven persons with physical disabilities accompanied by Petri+Lehr staff and cooperation partner VW explored Iceland in VW Touareg vehicles. 500 km over rough terrain. "What previously appeared impossible is now suddenly possible" said participant Klaus Droste. Documented by Petri+Lehr's Daniel Damrau, the film 'Iceland Event 2011' has been shown at a variety of trade fairs and events, and is part of Volkswagen's sales training.

2013 was another year of change. Wilhelm Meyer's Meyra Group filed for insolvency. The independent company Petri+Lehr benefited from its long-term partnerships and, under the leadership of Jörg Federer, quickly found a new home at its long-standing partner Starz. And so it was that Petri+Lehr became part of Kehrel AG on 01.12.2013, acting as an autonomous limited company within the Group. A perfect combination, because besides Starz GmbH Elektrotechnik-Electronic, Petri+Lehr's long-term supplier and technology partner for the development and production of vehicle electrical systems plus customer-specific hardware and software solutions, Petri+Lehr's long-standing partner Weinbrenner, responsible for exclusive leather adaptations and upholstery, is also part of this business empire. What goes together comes together.

Kehrel AG was founded in 1999 by 51 year old engineer Dr. Andreas Kehrel in Großräschen.

2014 - heute

As at the beginning, the various crafts are again working together under one roof. The Petri+Lehr brand is being upheld in the spirit of tradition. Despite the turbulence in 2013, product development continued uninterrupted, and the first series of the brand new "MFD TOUCH" ( (Multi-Function Steering Knob TOUCH) was launched in the spring of 2014. Innovative as ever: communication via radio for the first time, large buttons, perfect ergonomics in a modern, elegant design, styled by Sybs Bauer, Hamburg. A design that sets standards. Barely off the production line, the Petri+Lehr MFD TOUCH was included in the Mercedes-Benz product range. "Simply beautiful", enthuses singer Anna-Maria Zimmermann. "An innovative high-tech product for a high-quality car!" Roman Pott, re-aurigo, Hanover.

Petri+Lehr, whose headquarters are still located in Dietzenbach (Rhine-Main region), can look back with pride at a continuing history spanning over 113 years. Still full of ideas for innovative products to ensure the mobility of disabled persons. Still offering individual modifications and still enjoying close partnerships.

Selected partner workshops in Germany and various German automotive manufacturers are supplied with Petri+Lehr products. The company itself purchases additional, appropriate products from high-quality suppliers. Since its foundation, however, Petri+Lehr has first and foremost always remained a partner to people who again actively and self-determinedly live out and enjoy their automotive mobility.

For the active mobility of persons with physical limitations since 1902.

Unbroken pioneering spirit since 1902.

Since 1902: Mobility in any case