Audi is a German automobile manufacturer that designs, engineers, produces, markets and distributes luxury automobiles. Audi oversees worldwide operations from its headquarters in Ingolstadt, Bavaria, Germany. Audi-branded vehicles are produced in nine production facilities worldwide.
Audi has been a majority owned (99.55%) subsidiary of Volkswagen Group since 1966, following a phased purchase of Audi AG’s predecessor, Auto Union, from Daimler-Benz. Volkswagen relaunched the Audi brand with the 1965 introduction of the Audi F103 series.
The company name is based on the Latin translation of the surname of the founder, August Horch. “Horch”, meaning “listen” in German, becomes “audi” in Latin. The four rings of the Audi logo each represent one of four car companies that banded together to create Audi’s predecessor company, Auto Union. Audi’s slogan is Vorsprung durch Technik, meaning “Advancement through Technology”. However, since 2007 Audi USA has used the slogan “Truth in Engineering”. Audi is a member of the “German Big 3” luxury automakers, along with BMW and Mercedes-Benz, which are the three best-selling luxury automakers in the world.
Originally in 1885, automobile company Wanderer was established, later becoming a branch of Audi AG. Another company, NSU, which also later merged into Audi, was founded during this time, and later supplied the chassis for Gottlieb Daimler’s four-wheeler.
On 14 November 1899, August Horch (1868–1951) established the company A. Horch & Cie. in the Ehrenfeld district of Cologne. Three years later in 1902 he moved with his company to Reichenbach im Vogtland. On May, 10th, 1904 he founded the August Horch & Cie. Motorwagenwerke AG, a joint-stock company in Zwickau (State of Saxony).
After troubles with Horch chief financial officer, August Horch left Motorwagenwerke and founded in Zwickau on 16 July 1909, his second company, the August Horch Automobilwerke GmbH. His former partners sued him for trademark infringement. The German Reichsgericht (Supreme Court) in Leipzig, eventually determined that the Horch brand belonged to his former company.
Audi Type E
Since August Horch was banned from using “Horch” as a trade name in his new car business, he called a meeting with close business friends, Paul and Franz Fikentscher from Zwickau, Germany. At the apartment of Franz Fikentscher, they discussed how to come up with a new name for the company. During this meeting, Franz’s son was quietly studying Latin in a corner of the room. Several times he looked like he was on the verge of saying something but would just swallow his words and continue working, until he finally blurted out, “Father – audiatur et altera pars… wouldn’t it be a good idea to call it audi instead of horch?” “Horch!” in German means “Hark!” or “hear”, which is “Audi” in the singular imperative form of “audire” – “to listen” – in Latin. The idea was enthusiastically accepted by everyone attending the meeting. On 25 April 1910 the Audi Automobilwerke GmbH Zwickau (from 1915 on Audiwerke AG Zwickau) was entered in the company’s register of Zwickau registration court.
The first Audi automobile, the Audi Type A 10/22 hp (16 kW) Sport-Phaeton, was produced in the same year, followed by the successor Type B 10/28PS in the same year.
Audi started with a 2,612 cc inline-four engine model Type A, followed by a 3,564 cc model, as well as 4,680 cc and 5,720 cc models. These cars were successful even in sporting events. The first six-cylinder model Type M, 4,655 cc appeared in 1924.
August Horch left the Audiwerke in 1920 for a high position at the ministry of transport, but he was still involved with Audi as a member of the board of trustees. In September 1921, Audi became the first German car manufacturer to present a production car, the Audi Type K, with left-handed drive. Left-hand drive spread and established dominance during the 1920s because it provided a better view of oncoming traffic, making overtaking safer.