The Audi is a car of uttermost luxury, famous for its style, elegance and comfort. But not many people know the story behind one of Germany’s oldest surviving automobile manufactures, and most importantly those big four rings.
The original slogan Vorsprung durch Technik which translates into ‘Advancement through technology’ is something which was achieved by the unity of some of Germany’s greatest car manufacturers. Additionally, the Audi Company would only employee the most hard-working and creative workers which formed the sophisticated and innovative brand that we know today.
The four rings were born in 1932, under the name of Auto Union AG. This was when Audi, Horch, DKW, and Wanderer merged together to create a super-brand. Each ring is a representation of the four brands, which interlink to symbolise the inseparable unity of the motor companies. The businesses each specialised in a particular area: Audi manufactured deluxe midsize cars, Horch produced top-of-the-range deluxe automobiles, DKW were responsible for the small cars as well as motorcycles, and finally Wanderer built the midsize cars.
Audi, was actually the second project of its founder August Horch. The first company ‘Horch’ was named after himself and was one of only a few car manufacturers which existed in Germany at the time. Although circumstances forced Horch to withdraw from the company, he wasn’t ready to give up on his dream.
The foundations were set away to start a second company. Due to fair trade regulations he could not simply name the company Horch again. Instead, he translated his name which meant ‘listen’ into Latin, and here the famous brand ‘Audi’ was born. Audi operations commenced in 1910.
Another big company in the making was owned by two mechanics – Johann Baptist Winklhofer and Richard Adolf Jaencikie – whom had a repair shop for bicycles, however they were hungry for a challenge and thus started making bicycles of their own. This was a great business venture because there was a high demand for them to be made at the time. The first motorcycle created under ‘Wanderer’ was released in 1902. A decade later they stretched themselves even further and delved into the automobile market producing their first ever motor vehicle named the “Puppchen”. This was a little small two-seater enjoyed by many.
The company DKW was primarily founded under a different name ‘Rasmussen and Emst’ in 1904. Initially this company manufactured and supplied exhaust steam oil which led to the founder – Jörgen Skafte Rasmussen – experimenting with a steam-driven motor vehicle in 1916. The first motor car by DKW was put on the market a decade later in 1928.
When Auto Union AG formed, the company became the second largest car manufacturers in Germany, leading them to open up a new headquarters in Ingolstadt. Not so long after, another era begun in 1965; the Volkswagen Group secured 50% of the business.
The last and final company which made up the famous Audi brand was NSU, who initially manufactured knitting machines! The company later diversified their business and started producing motorcycles. NSU joined the Audi production line in 1969, resulting in the company being renamed as ‘Audi NSU Auto Union AG’. However the rather wordy name was starting to become a problem for the Audi board members and therefore they considered shortening it; ‘Audi AG’ was suggested and still exists today.
Currently, Audi has sold almost 600,000 cars, and has around 42,000 employees, meaning that it continues to be a leading international manufacturer of luxury and high quality cars. The four rings are certainly still going strong.