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Our history

Where it all began

Around 1950

The French engineer Eugene Houdry invented the automotive catalyst and founded the Oxy-Catalyst Company.


The Clean Air Act brings the first federal legislation in the US.

January 1965

R&D for automotive catalysts began at Degussa in Hanau-Wolfgang, Germany. Dr. Edgar Koberstein, one of the founders, was instrumental in the development of catalysts.

First successes | 1970-1983


Our first commercial success resulted in the construction of a new test center in Hanau-Wolfgang (Germany) combined with production capacity in Rheinfelden (Germany), Burlington (Canada), and Calvert City (USA).


As lead is a severe poison for catalysts, the introduction of unleaded fuel in the US was a crucial step. Nine years later, unleaded fuel was also introduced in Germany.


Automotive catalysts became mandatory in California.

Around 1980

One million catalysts in the market!

Legislations all around the world | 1983-1999


The Mercedes S-Class, fitted with our catalyzed Diesel particulate filter, was introduced to the market.

March 1986

We presented the latest developments and applications at the World Congress of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).


Our new R&D center opened.

We established new production plants in Japan, Korea, Brazil, and Sweden.

Around 1999

10 million catalysts in the market!

Diesel engines in passenger cars | 2000-2008


Umicore acquired the entire automotive catalysts business from Degussa (OMG).

A new plant in Suzhou, China, was built.


The acquisition of Delphi's catalyst activities made Umicore Automotive Catalysts one of the big three players in the market.


The Daimler-Chrysler's Bluetec I was introduced as one of the most sophisticated applications.

A new test center was built in Hanau-Wolfgang.

Numerous new technologies were successfully introduced into the market, i.a. Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) for diesel and NOx Storage Catalysts (NSC) for lean burning gasoline engines.


100 million catalysts in the market!

Umicore: new innovations, plants & R&D | 2009-2015

New plants were built in emerging markets (Pune, India) and established regions (Bad Säckingen, Germany; Nowa Roda, Poland).

New test centers were built in China, Japan, South Korea.

Around 2015

Almost 200 million catalysts in the market!

Strong focus on R&D and close cooperation with high tech universities

2016 - now

Umicore's strong future orientation is creating cutting-edge technologies to meet ever-tightening legislations.