40 years of innovation – IPG Automotive celebrates its 40th anniversary

Most successful high-tech companies started out in a garage or in a small apartment. What they all have in common is their innovation spirit. On July 10, 1984 the three founders of IPG Automotive started out in Karlsruhe with the vision to bring vehicle development to the virtual world. During the following 40 years, three employees in Karlsruhe grew to 400 in eight international locations, and a simulation experiment was transformed into a varied software and hardware product portfolio. Until this day, the vision and innovation spirit from the early days characterize our day-to-day work at IPG Automotive.

For our 40th anniversary, we proudly look back on everything we have achieved. But what is even more important than looking back is looking forward, and how we can shape the future of virtual vehicle development to make it more efficient and sustainable.

President & CEO Steffen Schmidt

Travel through time and explore the history of IPG Automotive

In 40 years, many events have influenced the company and the world. Travel through the decades with us:









1980s – The beginning

Simulation is vital for future vehicle development, that is what the founding team of IPG Automotive firmly believed in. It is in this spirit that Prof. Dr.-Ing. R. Gnadler, Dr.-Ing. Andreas Riedel and Dr.-Ing. Alexander Schmidt founded the “Ingenieurgemeinschaft Prof. Dr.-Ing. R. Gnadler GmbH” in July 1984, known today as IPG Automotive. In the following years, they began to develop project-specific software which was released and marketed as IPG-CAR from 1987. Two years later, the first hardware-in-the-loop test bench was built, resulting in the first coupling of hardware and simulation.

In the world as well, the 1980s were a decade of beginnings. The first personal computer was presented in 1981 and the first e-mail reached Germany in 1984 – in Karlsruhe as well. The Berlin Wall came down in 1989 and Europe was able to start a new era after the Cold War.

1990s – Development and advancement

The team continuously evolved and advanced the products. The driver model IPG-DRIVER was launched in 1990. IPG Automotive capitalized modular software early on to model virtual test driving. In 1998, we were already working on the third generation of HIL systems. Right before the turn of the millennium, in 1999, IPG Automotive published the simulation solution that still is at the heart of our product portfolio today: CarMaker.

In the 1990s, new developments established in different areas and all around the globe: SMS as a new type of communication, the international space station (ISS) as a new form of collaboration in space and the EU as a new type of community of states.

2000s – New paths

In the early years of the new millennium, IPG Automotive struck out on new paths. The company opened its products to new systems, to further simulations such as electrical faults with the Fail Safe Tester and to other types of vehicles with the release of MotorcycleMaker and later on TruckMaker. In 2003, the current company name IPG Automotive was officially registered. This decade was also the beginning of a strengthened network. In 2005, we hosted the first Open House and in 2006 the first user conference Apply & Innovate.

At an international scale, countries and societies broke new ground as well. From 2002, 12 countries were now able to use the same currency to pay because the euro was introduced as cash money. In 2007, the introduction of the iPhone heralded the start of a new era for mobile devices. In 2008, Barack Obama was elected president of the United States of America as the first Person of Color in this office.

2010s – International & distinguished company

To be even closer to customers all around the world, IPG Automotive pursued an expansion strategy in the 2010s. The first office in Germany opened in Munich in 2012, the first international subsidiary in Japan in 2014. Today, IPG Automotive has five locations in Germany in addition to the headquarters in Karlsruhe and eight international subsidiaries. The last subsidiary was established in India in 2023. During this period of expansion, the now over 400 employees did not only advance established products such as CarMaker, they also expanded the product portfolio with their expertise and process knowledge, for example with the virtual tool suite VIRTO in 2022. Since 2021, IPG Automotive carries the accolade TOP 100 innovator for its innovative strength.

Many global events have characterized the period of time since 2010. Political meetings such as between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un in 2018, sport events like the Olympic Games or World Championships, but also crises e.g. the Covid-19 pandemic that started in 2019 showed how closely our world is interconnected and that challenges can only be mastered together.

What does the future hold?

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The international technology conference Apply & Innovate will take place in Karlsruhe from September 11–12, 2024. You can expect fascinating presentations and insights into projects as well as a multi-faceted trade exhibition.