90 years ago entrepreneur Max Brose introduced his window regulator for automobiles at the 21st International Motor Show in Berlin. The same year series production of the “Atlas window crank apparatus” starts in Coburg. 90 years later, Brose manufactures the initial annual output of window regulators in less than a day.
Today the family-owned company produces around 70 million window regulators at 38 plants worldwide – as individual components or an integral part of door systems for all major OEMs. In comparison: the total global output is around 100 million vehicles in 2018.
From single product to system solution
1928: Atlas window crank apparatus
Company founder Max Brose patents the “crank drive for lowerable windows” as early as 1926. After several years of experimenting and development work, series production of the Brose Atlas window crank apparatus begins in Coburg in 1928. Instead of folding or sliding, now the window pane moves up and down. The use of a wrap spring brake in the window regulator finally makes it possible to hold the vehicle window in any position. Some of the first customers to use the Atlas window regulator include Daimler, Volkswagen, Borgward and Llyod.
1956: Electrically driven window regulator available as an upgrade
In line with the American trend, the demand for greater comfort in cars is also growing in Europe in the sixties: in 1956, Brose presents to automotive experts the “electrically driven window regulator” available as an upgrade. 1963 marks the start of series production of the first power window regulator in Europe in the BMW 3200 CS. On 26 September 1978 Brose celebrates the production of the 100-millionth window regulator at the location in Coburg.
1986: Window regulator electronics
Brose’s development of the first electronic control unit for power window regulators paves the way for its entry into the field of mechatronics and also introduces a world first: electronic anti-trap protection. In addition to the comfort features “one-touch operation” and “central opening/closing”, it also includes sensor technology that detects obstacles and immediately lowers the window. The first vehicle equipped with this important safety feature is the Opel Omega.
1987: Door system with power window regulator
With its modular vehicle door, Brose ventures into new territory in terms of technology and logistics. In 1987 the Audi 80 Coupé is the first vehicle to incorporate the new door system with integrated power window regulator and window. This Brose innovation offers car manufacturers numerous benefits such as lower costs, improved strength and simplified installation.
1996: Door module with extended range of functions
Brose is the first manufacturer to launch door modules that combine key functions in a single door system. It comprises the window regulator, latch, central locking mechanism, speaker(s) and cable set. The family-owned company is transforming from a specialist for window regulators into a system integrator for the complete door: now everything from the side airbag, impact protection, door handle and switch to elements of the interior trim are integrated. The first vehicle equipped with the Brose door module is the VW Passat.
Today and beyond: Comfort features for tomorrow’s vehicles
Max Brose’s foresight has paid dividends for the company. The working principle of the wrap spring brake is still used today in various Brose products like the manual seat height adjuster and power liftgate drives. And Brose door systems have a promising future with their innovative comfort features such as side doors that open and close automatically, first showcased in 2017.
Advertising highlights from the archives
Ad featuring the power window regulator
Short & sweet – good advertising needs few words: Brose product ad from 1990. Brose took out a full-page ad in the German news magazine “Der Spiegel” in 1990 to promote a campaign for power window regulators.