Audi, the German automaker that has brought us powerful import cars such as the R8 and beastly RS7, has a long and rich history. Dating back more than 125 years, the company has been bought and sold and merged many times.
Do you where the name Audi comes from or how the company’s iconic ring logo was derived? Probably not. If you do, you’re an expert on Audi history and should be proud of yourself. For everyone else, here are seven interesting facts you probably didn’t know about the German automaker.
1. Origins of Audi’s Iconic Logo
The four rings of Audi’s logo actually represent four different automakers that merged in 1932. Audi, DKW, Horch and Wanderer formed the Auto Nation, and the logo representing the four companies has been in use since before World War II.
2. The History of Its Name
While Audi’s roots date back to 1885, the Audi name didn’t come about until 1909. August Horch, who founded the Horch company — a predecessor to Audi — in 1899, started Audi after being kicked out of his company. The name Horch means to “hear” and since he lost a lawsuit barring him from using his name in another company for copyright reasons, Horch named his new company Audi, which is Latin for “listen.”
3. A Technology and Safety Pioneer
Audi was one of the first automakers to begin crash testing their vehicles and has been doing so for more than 75 years. Audi engineers would roll a production car down a hill in front of several onlookers and judge their response to the car’s condition. Safety has always been a top priority for the company.
4. The Effects of a Worldwide War
During World War II, Audi stopped producing cars and turned its efforts toward fighting the war. With most of its factories and other assets located in Soviet-occupied East Germany, the company management was forced to flee, starting a new company called Auto Union GmbH.
5. Audi Was a Late Bloomer
After World War II, Audi focused on making motorcycles and light delivery vehicles until Mercedes-Benz bought the company in 1958. The brand suffered for more than a decade as Mercedes-Benz focused on its line of cars. Audi was eventually sold again, this time to Volkswagen, one of its biggest competitors. It wasn’t until Audi produced the Audi 80 in 1972 that the company saw its real first success, selling more than a million models over six years.
6. Audi’s Era of Growth
From the 1970s on, Audi became a common household name, even in the United States, where import cars were becoming more and more popular. Sales skyrocketed and the brand built a name for itself in both the sport and luxury car markets.
7. A True Innovator
Audi changed the face of automobiles when it engineered features like Quattro all-wheel drive and fuel saving technology such as Stratified Injection. Under Volkswagen’s management, Audi continues to be a pioneer, becoming one of the first brands to use LED technology in its headlamps and taillamps and leading the way for multimedia infotainment.
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