Currently, there are a handful of automobile manufacturers that are instantly recognizable to everybody around the world. As well as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Ford, Audi fall into this category. Today, we’re going to delve into their history to learn more about the brand, the name, and the early cars.
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Depending on who you ask, Audi actually has different beginnings. For some, the 1885 launch of Wanderer Company counts since this brand later became a subsidiary of Audi. For others, it was four years later when A. Horch & Cie started at the hand of August Horch in Cologne. In 1904, the name expanded to include ‘Motowagenwerke AG’.
However, in 1909, Horch actually left this company and started another called August Horch Authomobilewerke GmbH. Instantly, this led to drama that will have filled the social media platforms had they been around at the time. Since the name of the new company was so similar, the remaining executives at the first decided to sue.
A short while later, Horch was in trouble with the Supreme Court as they agreed the name, despite including his own name, was too close to the existing company. Therefore, Horch turned to Latin and chose Audi which translated to ‘to listen’.
In 1910, the company was registered as Audi Automobilwerke GmbH Zwickau with ‘Zwickau’ being the state where Audi was launched. Over the years, it would come to be known as ‘Audi’ alone and the brand we all know and love had its platform.
In the very same year as the rebrand, the company released the Audi Type A Sport-Phaeton and the Type B version was released soon after. Interestingly, their early years were spent winning over the hearts of racing fans. For Horch, he lapped up the attention and won three straight Austrian Alpine Run events.
In 1920, Horch would actually go on to leave his second company as he was offered a high position at the Ministry of Transport. Despite only one decade at the helm of Audi, he did a fantastic job of getting the brand into a position where it was recognizable across a wide region.
With his influence and foundations clear to see, Audi built a left-hand drive vehicle and became the first German company to enter this market. Suddenly, drivers had a clearer view of the road, overtaking was easier, and Audi became known for their innovation.
For those wondering about the famous four-ring logo, this came in the 1930s when Audi merged with Horch’s first company as well as DKW and Wanderer. From this moment forward, the four would combine forces to form Auto Union AG.
Through the decades, Audi has been at the forefront of innovation and their models have appealed to a wide audience. This being said, the 1980s was another key period thanks to the introduction of their four-wheel drive sports coupe. With the Audi Quattro, the market had a drive concept that had only previously been seen on off-road vehicles and trucks.
Today, Audi continues to innovate and even expand into different markets. Although their sales numbers fell by 3.5% in 2018, they still sold 1.8 million units. In addition to this, they made record sales in China; 663,000 units (an increase of 10% from 2017).
Of course, Europe is still their largest market with 744,000 sales but it seems a switch is a matter of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’. As technology continues to grow and we see the rise of automation and AI, it’s an exciting time for one of the world’s largest car manufacturers!