As one of the leading automobile manufacturers in the world, Audi has plenty of history behind it. From the origins of the company, its logo, and the founder – August Horch, there is a lot of interesting information about Audi, and we will discuss all of it in this article.
Establishment of Audi
Audi was founded by August Horch in 1909, in the city of Zwickau, Germany. The company was first founded under the name August Horch Automobilwerke GmbH, but due to copyright infringement, August and his partners had to come up with a new name. When Horch and his new partners gathered to discuss a new name for the company, August’s son was studying Latin in the same room and suggested the Latin word for Hoch (hear) – Audi as a new name for the company. This idea was enthusiastically accepted by everyone in the room, and on 25 April, Audi Automobilwerke GmbH Zwickau became the official name for the automotive company. The first Audi car was called the Audi Type A, followed by Type B, which released later that same year.
Even though August Horch left the company in 1920 for a position in the ministry of transport, he was still heavily involved with Audi as a board member. In 1921, Audi became the first company to introduce left-hand driving with their model Type K, making it easier to overtake when driving on the right side of the road.
In August 1928, Jorgen Rasmussen, the owner of DKW, bought out the majority shares of Audiwerke AG. Later that year, he also acquired the US car manufacturer Rickenbacker. Three years later, Audi, DKW, Horch, and Wanderer merged to form Auto Union AG. During this time, Audi produced the Audi Front, which became the first European car to combine a six-cylinder engine with front-wheel drive. Before World War 2, Auto Union started using the same four ring logo of today, representing the four companies that make it up. However, at the time each separate company used their own names and emblems except for racing cars which were under the Auto Union name and logo.
At the end of 1966, Auto Union became a Volkswagen subsidiary after Volkswagen AG acquired majority stakes at Auto Union GmbH. Twenty years later, the company was named Audi AG, which has remained to this day. The head office is now located in Ingolstadt.
The Audi Logo
The iconic four rings that represent the Audi logo are one of the most easily recognizable logos today. Even though Audi still hasn’t officially confirmed what the four rings mean, it is now fairly certain that each of the rings represents one of the four companies that originally merged to form Audi.
Before 1995, it was also believed that the Audi logo was inspired by the Olympics logo, which also features rings, but there are five of them, and they are all of a different color and placed in a different manner than the Audi ones. Despite some noticeable differences, the International Olympic Committee even went as far as suing the German automotive company for copyright infringement in 1995, but the Court ruled in favor of Audi, allowing them to keep their iconic logo that they still use today.
Since then, it has been generally accepted that the four rings represent Audi, DKW, Horch, and Wanderer, the four companies that merged to form what was originally called the “Auto Union AG”, in 1932.
August Horch, Father of Audi
August Horch was a German engineer and founder of Audi. He was born in 1868 in Winningen. August was originally a blacksmith. After attending Mittweida Technical College (now known as Hochschule Mittweida, in his honor) he received a degree in engineering, and started working as a shipbuilder. In 1896, he started working for Karl Benz, and three years later, he decided to start his very own automotive company, A. Horch & Co in Cologne, Germany.
The company built its first car in 1901 and later moved to Zwickau. After a dispute with the other founders, Horch left the company to start a new one. After the legal dispute which forbade him to use Horch in the name of the company, he started Audi Automobilwerke GmbH in 1910. 10 years later, he left the company for a high position in the ministry of transport in Berlin. In 1937, he published his autobiography title “I Built Cars”. At the time, he also served as a board member of Auto Union, the successor to Audi Automobilwerke GmbH.
August was a highly respected man in the community, being named an honorary citizen of Zwickau for his life and work in the city. He was also an honorary professor at Braunschweig University of Technology, before passing away in 1951, at the age of 82, leaving behind a great legacy.
Audi Racing Department
Audi is a household name in the racing world, with a lot of success over the years. The racing department of Audi is known as Audi Sport GmbH and is a wholly owned private subsidiary of the company. It was founded in 1983 as quattro GmbH, and it focuses on producing high performance Audi cars, components, and purchaser specified customizations.
The company is located on a 3,500 square meters site near Stuttgart, Germany, and its core products include the Audi R.
S4, Audi RS6, and the Audi R8. It is also worth noting that Audi Sport is a closed company, meaning that they don’t sell any of their products directly, but do so under their parent’s company marquee, Audi.
Audi Sport GmbH specializes in a few different areas. Those are the design, testing, and production of high performance and specialist Audi cars, such as the Audi RS3, RS4, RS5, RS6, RS7, Audi RS Q3, Audi TTRS, and Audi R8. Aside from producing cars, they also design and specify roadwheels, as well as sports suspension and different specialist car parts like front bumpers, splitters, side skirts, rear bumpers, rear spoilers, and diffusers which are mainly used in the Audi “S” line.