German luxury car manufacturer Audi is among the most respected luxury car brands in the world. It is known for its four-intersected-rings logo and its cool-sounding “Vorsprung durch Technik” slogan, which means “being ahead through technology”. Founded in 1910, it is also one of the oldest automakers in the world. It is currently headquartered in Ingolstadt, Germany, and runs 11 production facilities in 9 countries around the world.
Audi traces its roots back to August Horch (1868–1951), a certified engineer who had a keen interest in automobile manufacturing. He built his first automobile in 1901. In 1904, Horch established the August Horch & Cie. Motorwagenwerke AG but ended up leaving the company five years later after falling out with the company’s chief financial officer. In July 1909, Horch then founded the August Horch Automobilwerke GmbH in the same town, Zwickau, in the state of Saxony, Germany. Because of the similarity of the names, Horch’s former company took him to court and won the right to use the ‘Horch’ name. Horch started looking for an alternative name for his second company, and while consulting with close business friends in Zwickau, he was given the idea of changing the company’s name to ‘Audi’, which means ‘listen’. ‘Horch’ means ‘hear’ in German, so ‘Audi’ was a suitable alternative. So, on 25 April 1910, Horch changed the name of the company to Audi Automobilwerke GmbH Zwickau. It was later changed to Audiwerke AG Zwickau in 1915.
In 1932, Audi merged with three other automakers, namely Horch, DKW (Dampf-Kraft-Wagen), and Wanderer; together, they formed Auto Union AG. The four rings in the Auto Union AG logo (and also in today’s Audi logo) represent each of these automakers. The Auto Union AG name remained as is until Volkswagen acquired the company in the 1960s. Under Volkswagen’s watch, the Audi brand was re-launched with the debut of the Audi F103 car, and Auto Union AG was merged with NSU Motorenwerke AG in 1969 to form Audi NSU Auto Union AG. In 1985, the company’s name was adjusted to Audi AG, the name we know today.
True to its “Vorsprung durch Technik” slogan, Audi has pioneered many automotive innovations that have revolutionized the automotive industry. For example, Audi became the first automaker to build an all-aluminum race car in 1938 (the Auto Union Type C). It also started crash-testing its vehicles close to eight decades ago, way before cameras and sensors were ever installed in vehicles. In 1980, Audi also debuted its revolutionary Quattro permanent all-wheel-drive system in the Audi Quattro. Audi has also set the standard for high-efficiency gasoline/diesel combustion in recent years with its FSI and TFSI/TSI technology. For these and many other innovations, Audi has twice been declared the most innovative premium car brand in the annual Automotive Innovations Awards.
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