ADAC (Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club e.V.) is Europe's largest motoring association. It would be more aptly described today as an individual mobility association since it looks more broadly at all transport options ensuring individual mobility. Its seat is in Munich. The object of ADAC is “the representation, promotion and advocacy of motoring, motorsport and tourism interests.” Its original and most well-known service is roadside assistance. The club also offers other products and services – directly or through subsidiaries, distributes city maps, road maps and road atlases and operates several driver safety centres. It works together closely with its Austrian counterpart ÖAMTC. Via its charitable subsidiary ADAC Luftrettung gGmbH, ADAC operates the largest fleet of ambulance helicopters in Germany. In 2019, the ADAC helicopters started into approx. 54,000 missions.
ADAC is one of 78 select associations and federations in Germany eligible to bring test actions for declaratory judgment (Musterfeststellungsklage).
The work of ADAC
According to its Article of Association, ADAC’s responsibilities lie in the “representation, promotion and advocacy of motoring, motor sport (...) interests” and is dedicated to the progress of road traffic, road safety, road safety education and tourism and the protection of the road users their rights as consumers.
Both the ADAC, and its older rival AvD (the organizer of the German Grand Prix), are members of the FIA and the DMSB. The European Grand Prix, the former ADAC Eifelrennen, the 24 Hours Nürburgring and many other races are hosted by ADAC.
The ADAC also operates a large fleet of mobile mechanics in yellow cars that assist motorists in trouble - the Yellow Angels. The ADAC runs its own modification center whereby ordinary vans are turned into mobile garages (pictures only depict Ford Galaxies) in 55 man-hours.
In addition to this, the ADAC provides 55 air ambulance helicoptersfor urgent medical rescues in Germany, strategically placed so that any location can be reached within 15 minutes. Air ambulance jets are used by the ADAC to rescue their members with a "PLUS" membership or customers who own an ADAC international travel insurance from any location worldwide in the case of accident or extreme sickness. The ADAC also offers its membership to non German residents, having signed contracts with automobile clubs worldwide. In the UK, it is possible to have breakdown recovery through the local AA while having an ADAC membership.
The ADAC is publisher of the magazine with one of the largest distribution in Germany, ADAC Motorwelt . The magazine is distributed four times a year to ADAC members containing features articles of common interest to all participants of public traffic, such as product tests, safe driving tips and also places to visit by car or motorbike.
ADAC is an Idealverein, an association with idealistic objectives , aligning its activities not along commercial objectives but along the interests and needs of its members.
In the course of 2016, ADAC realigned its organisation. ADAC now has a 3-pillar structure comprising an association (ADAC e.V.), a Societas Europaea (ADAC SE) and a foundation (ADAC Stiftung). This structure had been adopted by the vote of 200 delegates during an extraordinary General Assembly in late 2014. The structure was finalised in detail during 2015. At the 2016 ADAC General Assembly in Lübeck, the delegates agreed to the reorganised structure.
Organised as an association with idealistic objectives, ADAC e.V. provides core membership benefits such as roadside assistance and legal services, and is the home of functions such as consumer advocacy, motorsport, tourism and the club magazine ADAC Motorwelt.
Commercial activities have been devolved to an autonomous public company limited by shares (ADAC SE), separate of the association. ADAC e.V. holds a 57.74% majority of the ADAC SE shares. Other shareholders include the ADAC foundation (25.10%) and – via private equity companies – several ADAC regional clubs (17.16%).
The ADAC foundation is the third pillar in the ADAC structure (with ADAC e.V. and ADAC SE). The foundation pools ADAC’s charitable and for public benefit activities. The foundation’s objectives are aligned with those of ADAC e.V. They include the promotion and support of rescue in life-threatening situations, accident prevention, scholarship & research, education and charity.
The 3-pillar structure was fully implemented by early 2017.
The ADAC General Assembly convenes annually. Every four years, it elects the members of the ADAC Committee. The General Assembly is composed of the delegates of the regional clubs, the members of the ADAC Administrative Council and the Committee. One delegate represents 100,000 regional club members (or fraction thereof). By unanimous vote, the Committee may bestow honorary membership on persons from Germany or abroad in recognition of special merits in the cause of motoring. They enjoy the same rights and privileges as regular members.
In an extraordinary General Assembly on December 6, 2014, August Markl was elected ADAC President.
Over 200 delegates at the General Assembly at Nürburgring in May 2019 voted Ulrich Klaus Becker (Vice President), Karsten Schulze (Technical Services President) and Gerhard Hillebrand (Transport President ) to their offices. Jens Kuhfuß was confirmed in the office of Finance President. With President August Markl, Hermann Tomczyk (ADAC Sport President), Kurt Heinen, Tourism President, they form the newly constituted seven-strong ADAC Committee.
The extraordinary General Assembly in Munich in November 2019 adopted a new Premium membership which adds numerous features to the existing Plus membership. At this time, the membership fees for the available membership models were adjusted. This General Assembly also adopted generally amended Articles of Association. The aim of the amendments was to better differentiate between the club’s executive and advisory bodies and convey a clear assignment of responsibilities.
ADAC Administrative Council
The ADAC Administrative Council is composed of the members of the Committee and the 18 chairmen of the Regional Clubs or their deputies in the Regional Club Boards. Decisions of the Administrative Council are binding on all Regional Clubs.
The non-remunerated seven-strong ADAC Committee is elected by the General Assembly as defined in the Articles of Association of ADAC e.V (federal organisation). The Committee’s speaker is the ADAC President. The acting ADAC President is August Markl. The term of office of the Committee members is four years. They may be re-elected. Committee meetings are attended by the Chief Legal Adviser (currently Christian Reinicke, lawyer and notary public, elected in 2016).
Management and Executive Board
The ADAC e.V. Executive Board is the remunerated executive body, responsible for the club’s management. The ADAC e.V. Executive Board is composed of Dieter Nirschl, Lars Soutschka and Oliver Weissenberger. Marion Ebentheuer, Mahbod Asgari and Jörg Helten are the ADAC SE Executive Board Members. Andrea David is the Executive Director of the ADAC foundation.
ADAC e.V.: Business year 2018
At the end of 2018, ADAC e.V. had 20.72 million members. The trend continued upward in the first months of 2019. End of April 2019 the number of ADAC members stood at 20.84 million.
Despite rising membership, the receipts from membership fees do not cover the expenditure for assistance services such as roadside repair. In 2018, the result for membership benefits was -24.7 million EUR, up from -26.9 million the year before. ADAC’s future proficiency programme and improved efficiency address and counteract this negative development. The aim is to break even for membership benefits by the 2020 year end.
Due to extraordinary expense items, the ADAC e.V. earnings for the year 2018 stood at 759.4 million EUR. This includes a distribution from ADAC SE capital reserves to ADAC e.V., profit from the sale of ADAC e.V. shares in ADAC SE to ADAC regional clubs and a payment of Regional club arrears for higher roadside assistance costs due to the application of insurance premium tax. After adjustment of these extraordinary expense items, the annual result for 2018 was -7.9 million EUR, i.e. approx. on the same level as in 2017.
Having its registered office in Munich, ADAC SE is a company limited by shares under EU law offering mobility-oriented services and products to ADAC members, non-members and B2B customers. It comprises 28 affiliated companies and private equity firms including ADAC Versicherung AG (insurance), ADAC Finanzdienste GmbH (financial services), ADAC Autovermietung GmbH (car rental) and ADAC Service GmbH (vehicle-related services). A growth-oriented market player, ADAC SE progresses digital transformation across all its businesses relying on innovation and sustainable technologies.
As part of its company object – the holding of interests in companies and the provision of business support services – ADAC SE also manages its subsidiaries’ shares in its possession.
ADAC e.V. holds a 57.74% majority of the ADAC SE shares. Other shareholders include the ADAC foundation (25.10%) and – via private equity companies – several ADAC regional clubs (17.16%).
ADAC is affiliated to the following organisations:
- FIA, the international automobile federation
- FIVA, the international historic vehicles federation
- Euro NCAP, a crash test consortium
- Pro Mobilität, a Berlin-based lobbying organisation promoting the expansion and maintenance of the road network
- Network European Movement Germany
- EuropeNet24 (Europe-wide breakdown assistance for HGVs)
Founded on May 24, 1903 at the then Hotel Silber (hist. building) in Stuttgart, ADAC was originally named Deutsche Motorradfahrer-Vereinigung (German Motorcyclist Association) and re-named Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club (ADAC) in 1911. The Prussian eagle was selected as the emblem in the club’s badge in appreciation of the Prussian royal family’s support and patronage. Its most senior figure at the time was German Emperor and King of Prussia Wilhelm II.
The ADAC break-down assistance service was launched in Germany in 1927.
After 1933, in the process of Nazification – a.k.a. Gleichschaltung – of German society, the Nazis amalgamated all motoring organisations in Germany in the DDAC (Der Deutsche Automobil-Club e.V.), an umbrella association that was allowed to exist in the shadow of the NSKK (National Socialist Motor Corps). A DDAC appeal described the 1934 international Automobile Exhibition as a “show for the people” rather than an “exhibition for the more affluent bourgeois segment” of society. “Motoring for the people” (Volkskraftfahrt), it proclaimed, was more “in the spirit of the Führer”.
In 1954 Heinz Frölich became the first of (in that year) 56 ADAC patrolmen, equipped with a motorbike-sidecar combination, on which the side car consisted of a large compartment filled with tools and parts for roadside repairs. These original ADAC "Gelbe Engel" ("Yellow Angels") used "NSU Konsul" motorbikes.
At the end of 1962 ADAC announced the retirement of their motor-bike-sidecar combinations which would be replaced by 40 appropriately equipped Volkswagen Beetles. Equipment on the new cars included a flashing roof-light, repair tools, a radio-based communication device, compressed air canisters, a spade and broom set, and a basic "doctor-kit" incorporating blood-plasma.
In 1974 the organisation had 3.8 million members at a time when there were 19.0 million passenger cars registered in Germany: by 1990 membership had risen to 10.2 million, with 35.5 million passenger cars registered in the country, so that ADAC membership has grown more than twice as fast as national car ownership. Growth rates during the ensuing twenty years were greatly boosted by German reunification.
May 2012 was when the organization welcomed its 18 millionth member, a further milestone being reached in May 2013 as the ADAC fitted out its 10,000th roadside assistance vehicle, a Volkswagen Touran, kitted out with several hundred different tools and replacement parts.
In 1997, ADAC opened its new technical centre in Landsberg am Lech, Bavaria. At this site, 150 new cars are being tested and reviewed annually.
In 2003, ADAC voiced criticism of the supervised driving at age 17 pilot in Lower Saxony and celebrated its 100th anniversary.
The ADAC Stiftung “Gelber Engel” foundation was established in 2007. This foundation supports victims of road accidents in financial distress to help them regain their mobility. In addition, the foundation funds accident rescue and accident research initiatives and institutions.
At the end of 2019 ADAC had 21.2 million members.
Except for its first two years of existence, ADAC has had its seat and headquarters in Munich. For the longest period of time the address was Am Westpark 8. That office building had finally become too small and was torn down in mid-2012. The new building is a 93-metre office tower (initial design by architects Sauerbruch Hutton) in the borough of Sendling at Hansastrasse 19, built for approx. €350 million. ADAC staff started moving into the new facilities in December of 2011. The building was officially inaugurated on March 22, 2012. A tower rísing to 23-stories, of which 5 stories make up the star-shaped plinth section, it has 125,000sqm of usable floor area.
The tower shares the grounds with a historic landmark building in the foreground. The Sander Villa is now known as the ADAC club house. It houses the ADAC library and several other collections and is used for meetings and conferences.
ADAC road patrol
The primary service provided by ADAC is roadside assistance. The ADAC road patrol dates back to 1928, when the ADAC-Straßen-Hilfsdienst (roadside assistance service) was established. Back then, the patrols used sidecar motorcycles. After World War II, during which ADAC was forced to stop operations, the provision of breakdown assistance services was resumed by establishing the ADAC Straßenwacht (road patrol) in 1954. In 1990, the road patrol started covering the New Länder. In 1951, ADAC also started to organise assistance outside Germany.
ADAC operates a fleet of more than 1,700 yellow road patrol vehicles (yellow angels). In the 1960s and 1970s, the yellow Beetles were a fixture on German roads. Today, ADAC deploys MPVs, each carrying up to 290kg of equipment ranging from the right tools for any situation to a digital diagnostic tool to small parts and replacement batteries. In the case of a car breakdown, members can request assistance over the phone or emergency roadside telephone on the motorway, over the Internet or via smartphone app: A dispatcher at one of the five breakdown assistance centres takes down the necessary data and forwards them to the next available road patrol. The road patrol driver will call the member several minutes before arrival.
ADAC also provides Europe-wide breakdown assistance for HGVs. In Germany, ADAC uses special breakdown assistance vehicles for HGVs. In other European countries, ADAC partners provide assistance.
In 2019, the road patrols and ADAC mobility partners were dispatched in 3.7 million cases, i.e. almost 10,300 times a day. In keeping with the previous years, the breakdowns were usually due to problems with the automotive battery, the most frequent breakdown cause at nearly 42%.
Lobbying and public relations
ADAC is among Germany's most influential associations and one of the biggest lobbying associations worldwide. Public relations activities focus on topics such as maintaining motorised mobility, preventing speed limits, traffic law and fines, the safety of tunnels and car ferries as well as road safety education.
In recent years, ADAC has developed a growing interest for other transport operators and modes, for instance, by conducting tests on local public transport and urban cycling. ADAC regularly issues press releases and publishes the ADAC Motorwelt club magazine to inform its approx. 21.2m members.
In 2020, the ADAC Motorwelt has become a quarterly publication (four issues per year). In the first quarter of 2020, the Burda affiliate BCN started to handle everything from production and printing to editorial services to marketing to distribution of the ADAC Motorwelt; the mobility club continues to be its publisher, and editor-in-chief Martin Kunz continues to oversee the content. At the same time, ADAC enhances and expands its digital communication channels.
Starting in 2020, the new ADAC Motorwelt is available at the ADAC local offices, travel agencies and driver safety locations as well as the EDEKA and Netto supermarkets. All members need to do to get a copy of the magazine is show their membership card.
Air medical services
ADAC Luftrettung gGmbH (established on November 25, 1981 as a regular German PLC or GmbH) with a staff of 190 operates 55 ambulance and intensive care helicopters. Of this fleet, two are EC 145, 28 EC 135 and 15 BK 117, stationed at 37 HEMS bases, two outside Germany. The organisation’s 2014 turnover was 90 million EUR. ADAC Luftrettung gGmbH is the largest civilian rotor-wing air medical organisation in Germany, followed by DRF Luftrettung.
According to the pertinent register of companies, ADAC HEMS operations (ADAC-Luftrettung) were established on November 25, 1981 as a limited liability company (GmbH) named Arbeitskreis des ADAC zur Förderung der Luftrettung und zur Hebung der allgemeinen Verkehrssicherheit (ADAC-Luftrettung) Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung (ADAC working group to support air medical services and improve general road safety). On March 29, 2000, the organisation was renamed ADAC-Luftrettung GmbH and on August 26, 2013 ADAC Luftrettung gGmbH.
In extension of its rotor-wing ambulance operations, ADAC holds shares in Aero-Dienst GmbH and is enabled to operate a small fleet of fixed-wing ambulance aircraft for mid-range medical repatriation:
· 1 Beechcraft King Air 350
ADAC Stiftung „Gelber Engel“
The ADAC Stiftung „Gelber Engel“ gGmbH (yellow angel foundation) has been supporting the victims of road accidents since 2007. Its object is to provide assistance to people injured in road accidents. Its foundation capital is 10 million EUR. It is also used to fund research considered by ADAC to improve road safety. In September 2013, the foundation was registered as a gGmbH (charitable limited company under German law).
ADAC Stiftung Sport
ADAC Stiftung Sport is a foundation set up in 1998 to promote and support German racing talent. Young motor racers showing adequate potential are offered the opportunity to benefit from the support of experts and partners of the foundation. In addition to material backing, the grantees are also eligible to benefit from training and coaching in many fields. In addition, the foundation also devotes funds to increasing motor sport safety and supporting non-professional racers injured in accidents.
ADAC offers a variety of tourism and travel-related information. This includes daily updates on travel-related topics in the Reise & Freizeit (travel & leisure) section of its website. ADAC tourist advice includes information on POI in the main holiday destinations, valuable details about the travel destination, rules of the road, toll roads, world-wide weather forecasts, travel and safety updates, mobility information related to city trips, material regarding the Carnet de Passages.
Specialised information is available for the camping and boating communities. The ADAC tourism advisers also provide suggested tours for motorcyclists and drivers of historic vehicles.
ADAC members may visit a local office to get their information and advice in person or access what they need on adac.de and specialised apps.
ADAC champions automobile Tourism. In the course of German reunification, ADAC joined forces with the conservancy Schutzgemeinschaft Deutscher Wald (alliance for the protection of German forests) and the German tourism association Deutscher Tourismusverband to have the 2,500 kilometre Deutsche Alleenstraße tree-lined holiday route running the length of Germany designated. 
Test & Technical Services
To bolster its means to conduct independent consumer protection research, ADAC established its own technical centre at Landsberg am Lech near Munich in 1997. This facility has given ADAC the capability of submitting vehicles, vehicle parts and accessories to technical tests revealing any safety-relevant flaws.
Ever since, ADAC has conducted technical and mobility tests and published the test results in its media channels. Technical tests regularly include cars, tyres, child restraint systems, pedelecs, safety helmets and roof boxes etc. Of course, the ADAC test engineers look at new products such as wall boxes or e-scooters as soon as they become available. New technologies such as driver assistance systems all the way to autonomous driving are also under review as is data security in connected systems. ADAC mobility tests include consumer-oriented services and infrastructures testing, e.g. of intercity coach stations, charging infrastructures for e-vehicles, P&R facilities, or the comparative pricing of public transport tickets.
The majority of ADAC’s technical tests are conducted at its technical centre at Landsberg am Lech. The facilities include an exhaust gas testing lab and a crash-test facility. The German Federal Motor Transport Authority recognised these facilities as test labs as compliant with the DIN EN ISO/IEC 17025 standard. The testing operations are certified to ISO 9001:2015. 
These maps based on EuroRAP's Road Protection Score Protocol (or Star Rating Protocol) is a measure of how well a road protects road users in the event of an accident. Data on road characteristics is gathered by driving through road inspections using a specially equipped RPS inspection vehicle (Straßentest in German). Trained assessors then rate the safety features and hazards on the inspected road and use standardised formula to produce a safety star rating, which is comparable across Europe.
Campaigning for Safe Road Design
The European Campaign for Safe Road Design is a partnership between 28 major European road safety stakeholders that is calling for the EC to invest in safe road infrastructure initiatives which could cut deaths on European roads by 33% in less than a decade. ADAC is the campaign's partner in Germany.
In expert events and articles, ADAC has taken position on issues such as road safety, transport law, transport policy and traffic planning as well as on environmental protection issues.
In 2006, ADAC published a series of critical press releases on the issue of driving licence shopping – i.e. getting licensed in another country after having one's driving licence revoked in one’s home country – and advocated the speedy harmonisation of driver licensing in Europe.
ADAC also offers driver safety training at 11 driver safety centres and 40 training facilities nationwide. The declared objective of the training is to increase driver confidence and make road users safer, raise awareness of critical situations and impart some theoretical instruction in vehicle technology. There are special car, motorcycle, van, bus and HGV training modules.
Some ADAC positions are very controversial, questioning the benefit for road safety of some planned measures or rather implying the opposite.
The club had argued its opposition to a general speed limit on German motorways by citing the finding that statistically the motorways are already the safest roads in Germany (in terms of accidents) and that a speed limit would not significantly reduce the severity of accidents. Supporters of a speed limit such as the Verkehrsclub Deutschland (VCD) argue that the measure would indeed reduce the risk and the severity of accidents and would help avoid motorway fatalities and severe injuries to the order of hundreds In the light of an ambivalent opinion both of the public at large and among ADAC members with regard to the implementation of a general speed limit on German motorways, ADAC will no longer make any recommendations to the policy makers on this issue. In fact, current studies and statistics had produced a very heterogeneous view on the effects of a speed limit both in respect of climate change mitigation and road safety.
Emergency key service
Since January 2019, ADAC members can call ADAC for assistance when they have locked themselves out of their homes. This is possible in a pilot project running in the urban areas of Munich, Berlin and Hamburg.
ADAC ridesharing club
The ADAC ridesharing club (Mitfahrclub) is a platform for ridesharing.
ADAC for the young generation
ADAC facilitates the young generation’s start into mobility and provides information on topics such as road safety, driver licensing, car buying etc. There are non-contributory membership models for youths, novice drivers and college and university students. Members in such schemes benefit from free practice with driving licence test questions, they can use breakdown and accident assistance and frontline legal advice.
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