Kärcher celebrates 40 years of car care

When it comes to car cleaning, it’s hard to go around Kärcher. This year, the German famil-owned company celebrates the fact it started with car care 40 years ago. Reason enough for an interview.

Whether it’s your private car, the floor of your gas station shop or the terrace in your garden, sooner or later the name Kärcher pops up. The color yellow has almost become synonymous with their famous high-pressure water cleaners.

This is what Wikipedia has to say about the company : “Alfred Kärcher SE & Co. KG is a German family-owned company that operates worldwide and is known for its high-pressure cleaners, floor care equipment, parts cleaning systems, wash water treatment, military decontamination equipment and window vacuum cleaners.”

Kärcher has its headquarter in Winnenden, in the southwest of Germany. But nowadays it mans offices around the world. Two years ago, they established its North American headquarters in Aurora, Colorado.

The company has become the world market leader in cleaning technology and employs more than 10,000 people worldwide. In 2017 it posted sales revenues of €2.5 billion ($2.88 billion) and sold more than 13 million machines.
During the 40 years of their existence, vehicle washing has changed in many ways. Sandra Schäfer of the German subsidiary of CarwashPro recently interviewed Kärcher about past and future:

Can you take a look back at Kärcher’s beginnings in the field of vehicle washing? How did it all begin?
Kärcher: “The foundation for the company’s vehicle washing activities was laid in 1982. In that year, Kärcher developed the SHD-R 600, the first pump for self-service wash bays. This was installed in a complex modular design in the equipment room, depending on the number of wash bays. It was suitable for the washing programs high-pressure washing, brush washing, rinsing and gloss drying. In the course of the following years, Vehicle Wash developed as a new Kärcher business unit in its own right and has been expanded ever since.”

Do you see a continuous development that is reflected in Kärcher’s products?
Kärcher: “Above all, the Kärcher company is characterized by its strong inventive spirit and great innovative strength. Coupled with the claim to always achieve the best cleaning result. This leads to a large number of innovative, efficient and successful products. Examples include the intelligent side brush K!Brush iQ, which is able to adapt to different vehicle shapes, or the height-adjustable planetary wheel washer K!Planet iQ, which removes the most stubborn dirt gently and effectively.”

“In addition, Kärcher always focuses on the customer. Their needs should be met in the best possible way. A prime example of this is the Clean Park Eco, in Dettenhausen, Baden-Württemberg. The operator wanted to implement the most environmentally friendly self-service car wash on the market. Together, Kärcher and the operator were able to find a suitable solution. Electricity is generated by a photovoltaic system, hot water is generated by solar thermal energy, and rainwater is used for vehicle washing. The water is recycled through biological treatment and kept in circulation.”

How did you manage to get customers to talk not only about Kärcher products, but to make “kärchering something” a household word?
Kärcher: “We are very honored that the term “kärchern” has become part of many people’s vocabulary – and even in dictionaries. The Kärcher brand is a household name to many people because they have positive experiences using our equipment every day. Kärcher is not only a cleaning specialist, but has also been shaping the cleaning market for many years with its innovations and products. As a result, we are perceived by our customers as a strong brand that stands for efficient cleaning solutions and the term “kärcher” is used as a synonym for cleaning with a high-pressure cleaner.”

What are currently the most demanded market solutions in the field of vehicle washing from your company?
“Demand is currently particularly high for the CWB 3 Klean!Star iQ portal washing system, the SB VC self-service vacuum cleaner and the high-pressure cleaner product group. The gantry washer is a high-performance system that impresses with its unique, intelligent K!Brush iQ side brush and the K!Planet iQ planetary wheel washer, which can fully reach different rim geometries and sizes to achieve ideal cleaning results. The self-service vacuum range enables convenient and efficient vacuuming and is used, for example, at service stations, in care centers and car dealerships.”

What can investors, operators and end customers expect from Kärcher in the near future?
“With the CW 1 Klean!Fit, Kärcher is launching a new, compact entry-level gantry car wash, thus complementing its existing portfolio for vehicle washing. In addition, there is a user-friendly self-service portfolio and a wide range of solutions in the area of digitization, such as the Charlie fleet management and payment system.”

Kärcher cleans monuments and world famous machines too, like the London Eye. 

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Author: Sandra Schäfer

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