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Audi

Audi

Germany Germany (1909 - present)
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History

Audi founder August Horch

Audi founder August Horch

© photo courtesy of: Audi

Audi’s history starts when founder August Horch opened a car company named A. Horch & Cie.HorchHorchGermany, 1904 > 193125 models
73 photos
in 1899. Then in 1901 his factory completed the assembly of the first Horch automobile. August Horch, however, ended up being expelled from his own company in 1909. He subsequently went on to start another car company in Zwickau, Germany, where he kept producing cars under the ‘Horch’ brandname, even though his former company was doing the same.

After the court ruled out that only the original Horch & Cie company was allowed to badge their cars with the ‘Hodge’ tradename, banning August from using his own last name on his business, he decided to go for “Audi” to brand his cars. The word ‘audi’ is Latin for “hear” or “listen”, which actually translates into German as “horch”, leading back to August’s family name. ‘Audi’ can simultaneously stand as the acronym for the words “Auto Union Deutschland Ingolstadt”, although the Auto UnionAuto-UnionAuto-UnionGermany, 1932 > 19647 models
11 photos
brand did not appear until many years later.

The first Audi automobile was a 2.6-liter model and in no time the German brand was joining in racing competitions, where the first Audi models achieved quite some success. Nevertheless, August Horch eventually dropped out from Audi in 1920. The following year became an important landmark for Audi as they became the first German car brand to release a production model with left-hand drive: the Audi Type KAudi Type K 14/50Germany, 1921 > 1926, launched in 1921.

 

Auo Union, founded 1932

Auo Union, founded 1932

© photo courtesy of: Audi

After some tumultuous years of intermittent financial crisis, Audi ended up merging with three other German car manufacturers: Horch, DKWDKWDKWGermany, 1927 > 196522 models
33 photos
and WandererWandererWandererGermany, 1896 > 194519 models
12 photos
. The four companies together formed the Auto Union car company. During World War II, the Auto Union plants were turned into important vehicle suppliers for the German army, while civilian car production was suspended. The factories, however, got seriously bombed and smashed, ending up dismantled and confiscated after the war with no kind of compensation whatsoever.

Thanks to the financial help coming from the Marshall Plan, together with loans that were conceded by the Bavarian state, the Auto Union company was rebuilt at Ingolstadt, Bavaria, and reopened doors on September 3, 1949. The first post-war Auto Union model was launched the following year, but the company’s cars were now being given the DKW badge. Daimler-BenzMercedes-BenzMercedes-BenzGermany, 1924 > present195 models
9778 photos
33 videos
purchased an 87% share of the company in 1957 and the rest of it in 1958, becoming a 100% owner of Auto Union.

The Volkswagen GroupVolkswagenVolkswagenGermany, 1938 > present94 models
9571 photos
31 videos
bought the Auto Union trademark rights, as well as the company’s Ingolstadt works, in 1964 and decided to get the Audi brand back on the market, eventually dropping the DKW badge. Five years later, the Auto Union and the NSUNSUNSUGermany, 1873 > 196925 models
48 photos
car companies were merged together into the new Audi NSU Auto Union AG company. From now on, the Audi brand was the only one they used to badge all their cars. The name of the company got shortened in 1985 into just Audi AG.

Audi has been continuously increasing their sales, breaking their own sales record every single year for the past 13 years. The company reached their 13th consecutive record in 2008 by having sold 1,003,400 Audi cars.



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Logo

Audi logo

Audi logo

© photo courtesy of: Audi

 

Audi’s interlocked rings symbol dates back to 1932 when the Auto Union (the former Audi company) merged with DKW, Horch and Wanderer car manufacturers. Therefore, each one of the four interlaced rings represents each of those companies, linked together as one.

The Auto Union group would become the Audi car brand that we know today in 1985 but the company kept the four interlocked rings badge as the brand’s symbol.



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Motorsport

Audi Quattro

Audi Quattro

© photo courtesy of: Audi

German car manufacturer Audi has been competing in several motorsport events since the 1930’s, building up a solid and remarkable tradition in the racing world ever since. Audi’s most successful racing so far was the four-wheel drive turbocharged QuattroQuattroAudi QuattroGermany, 1980 > 19915 versions
11 photos
2 videos
, which the company released in 1980 and it would win quite a good amount of racing and rallying events around the world. The Audi Quattro has been particularly successful in the World Rally Championship (WRC), winning the manufacturers’ title for the 1982 and 1984 seasons. Drivers Hannu Mikkola and Stig Blomgvist also brought Audi the 1983 and 1984 drivers’ titles respectively, competing aboard a Quattro.

The German brand made a great impression in the 1984 season of the WRC by conquering all podium places at the Monte Carlo and the Swedish rallies. But Audi would withdraw from international rallying in 1986 after severe crash that took place in a race in Portugal. Throughout its career in rally racing, Audi also set several Pikes Peak International Hill Climb records.

Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro

Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro

© photo courtesy of: Audi

In 1988 the German carmaker turned its racing efforts to the North American continent, entering the Trans-Am that year and the IMSA GTO in 1989. Although having won many of the races, Audi just didn’t turn out to be successful on such competitions and never took a title.

Audi would then turn its focus into the supertouring car series in 1993, a competition that had been growing attention quite quickly. Audi’s race team entered the 1993 season of the French Supertourisme and the Italian Superturismo. The team would go on to race in the 1994 German Super Tourenwagen (STW) and the 1995 British Touring Car Championship (BTCC).

In 1998 the company decided to move on to sports car racing, for which an open-top and a GT prototypes were built the following year. The open-top prototype was the Audi R8RR8RAudi R8RGermany, 1999 > present2 photos
and the GT model was the Audi R8CAudi R8CGermany, 1999 > present.

The Audi R8 took the title at the Le Mans for three consecutive seasons, from 2000 to 2002, after having also won the inaugural season of the American Le Mans in 1999.

Audi returned in full force to the touring car series in 2004 with two ‘Joest Racing’ team Audi A4A4Audi A4Germany, 1994 > present5 series
821 versions
1150 photos
3 videos
units that had full factory support. Three Audi R8 cars entered the 2005 season of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where they achieved great success by reaching the first, third and fourth places. In 2006 the Audi R10 TDIR10 TDIAudi R10 TDIGermany, 2006 > present4 photos
was released to replace and carry on with the success of the R8, which was indeed achieved with the victory at that year’s Le Mans 24 Hours.



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