Audi AG is one of the most popular luxury car makers in the world today. The name “Audi” is a Latin word meaning “to listen”. Interestingly, that same word, when translated to German, is “Horch”, which is the surname of its founder August Horch. He originally named it August Horch Automobilwerke GmbH, but renamed it Audi Automobilwerke GmbH Zwickau (and from 1915 on, Audiwerke AG Zwickau) after he was sued by his former partners for trademark infringement.
Now part of the Volkswagen Group, its name has cemented its reputation as one of the best-selling luxury vehicle brands in the world today. But more than that, Audi cars are known for their precise craftsmanship, advances in automotive technology and balanced driving, making them excel both in sport and comfort mode with quiet aplomb.
Here’s a brief history on how it all started for this company:
There will be no Audi without August Horch. Formerly a production manager for Karl Benz, he started August Horch & Cie. Motorwagenwerke AG in 1902 and then went on to build a new one in 1909. However, he was sued by his former company for trademark infringement, which prompted his son to suggest replacing the name “August Horch Automobilwerke GmbH” to “Audi Automobilwerke GmbH,” instead.
The first car it produced was the Audi Type A 10/22 hp (16kW) Sport-Phaeton. The company was also the first German car manufacturer to introduce a left-hand drive vehicle–the Audi Type K.
Building the Foundation
Horch left Audiwerke in 1920, and in 1928, Jørgen Rasmussen, the owner of Dampf-Kraft-Wagen (DKW) bought the majority of Audiwerke AG’s shares.
In 1932, Audi merged with three companies to form Auto Union AG. It was also during this time that they created the four interlinked rings that Audi is known for. The four rings symbolized the four independent automobile manufacturers that merged in the company: Audi, Horch, DKW, and Wanderer.
After World War II
World War II was a challenge for Audi, since its factories were dismantled and entire assets seized by the Soviet Army in 1945.
It relocated to Ingolstadt, Bavaria, and formed a spare parts business in late 1945. Its former factory in Zwickau continued to assemble pre-war models.
The modern era of Audi essentially began in the 1960s when Auto Union was acquired by Volkswagen from Daimler-Benz, which acquired it in 1958. They merged it with NSU Motorenwerke to create the present day form of the company.
Audi decided to change its image by accepting to develop a four-wheel drive technology in Volkswagen Iltis military vehicle for an Audi performance and rally racing car. Popularly known as the Audi Quattro, it’s turbocharged coupe was the first German large-scale production vehicle to feature permanent all-wheel drive through a center differential.
Audi started to set world records during the early part of the 21st century, and started shifting its target market to compete directly with German automakers Mercedes-Benz and BMW. It released the Audi V8 in 1990, and was followed by Audi 80, 90, 100, and 200. Soon, the mass-produced S series of performance cars followed.
Today, Audi’s biggest sales come from Eastern Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and China. Part of the reason why Audi’s sales are up in China is that Chinese government officials use Audi for their cars. This is responsible for 20 percent of its sales today.