From sewing machine manufacturer to automaker is quite a leap and was the one taken in 1899 when Wilhelm Opel, son of company founder Adam Opel, bought a car company and started more than a century of production of cars.

Celebrating its 125th anniversary this year, Opel is looking to the future and, for the first time in the brand's history, every model will have a battery-electric variant – above all the new Opel Astra Sports Tourer Electric, one of the first battery-electric estate cars on the market.

More than 75-million Opel vehicles have left the production plants all over Europe. One of the current bestsellers comes from Rüsselsheim: the latest generation of the Opel Astra.

Opel in your sights - look no further

Opel CEO, Florian Huettl says: “Like Opel 125 years ago, we are now at the beginning of a new era. Back then, the company became a pioneer by entering the automobile age. Nowadays, Opel is an electric pioneer, offering locally emissions-free, individual mobility that is also suitable for everyday use.”

Opel's story began in 1862. Adam Opel built his first sewing machine in Rüsselsheim, and it soon developed into one of the largest sewing machine manufacturers in Germany and exported all over Europe. With the bicycle, Opel gained its next successful foothold. The first penny-farthing was built in Rüsselsheim in 1886, making Opel one of the first bicycle makers in Germany. In the 1920s – in parallel to the car business – Opel became the world's largest bicycle manufacturer.

While 125 years ago the Opel-Patentmotorwagen System Lutzmann was a pioneering achievement as the first automobile from Rüsselsheim, today this is the latest generation of the bestseller Opel Astra, which is designed, developed and manufactured there.

Colin Windell