AUDI AG has been a majority owned (99.55%) subsidiary of Volkswagen AG since 1966, following a phased purchase of AUDI AG’s predecessor, Auto Union, from Daimler-Benz. Volkswagen relaunched the Audi brand with the 1965 introduction of the Audi F103 series.
The company name is based on the surname of the founder, August Horch. “Horch”, meaning “listen”, becomes “Audi” when translated into Latin. The four rings of the Audi logo each represent one of four car companies that banded together to create the company. Audi’s slogan is Vorsprung durch Technik, meaning “Advancement through Technology”. Recently in the United States, Audi has updated the slogan to “Truth in Engineering”.
Birth of the company and its name
Originally, in 1885, automobile company Wanderer was established, later becoming a branch of Audi AG. Another company, NSU, which also later merged into Audi, was founded during this time, and later supplied the chassis for Gottlieb Daimler’s four-wheeler.
On 14 November 1899, August Horch (1868–1951) established the company A. Horch & Cie. in the Ehrenfeld district of Cologne, but because of a dispute between him and the supervisory board, he had to leave the company. In 1909, he established a second company, Horch Automobil-Werke GmbH. The first Audi automobile, the Audi Type A 10/22 hp (16 kW) Sport-Phaeton, was produced in 1910 in Zwickau.
In 1909, Horch was forced out of the company he had founded. He then started a new company in Zwickau and continued using the Horch brand. His former partners sued him for trademark infringement, and the German Supreme Court (Reichsgericht in Berlin), finally determined that the Horch brand belonged to his former company.
Audi Type E
Since August Horch was banned from using “Horch” as a trade name in his new car business, he called a meeting with close business friends, Paul and Franz Fikentscher from Zwickau, Germany. At the apartment of Franz Fikentscher, they discussed how to come up with a new name for the company. During this meeting, Franz’s son was quietly studying Latin in a corner of the room. Several times he looked like he was on the verge of saying something but would just swallow his words and continue working, until he finally blurted out, “Father – audiatur et altera pars… wouldn’t it be a good idea to call it audi instead of horch?” “Horch!” in German means “Hark!” or “hear”, which is “Audi” in the singular imperative form of “audire” – “to listen” – in Latin. The idea was enthusiastically accepted by everyone attending the meeting. The first Audi car, the Type B, 10/28PS was delivered early in 1910.
Audi started with a 2,612 cc inline-four engine model[clarification needed] followed by a 3,564 cc model, as well as 4,680 cc and 5,720 cc models. These cars were successful even in sporting events. The first six-cylinder model,[clarification needed] 4,655 cc appeared in 1924.
August Horch left the Audi company in 1920 for a high position at the ministry of transport, but he was still involved with Audi as a member of the board of trustees. In September 1921, Audi became the first German car manufacturer to present a production car, the Audi Type K, with left-handed drive. Left-hand drive spread and established dominance during the 1920s because it provided a better view of oncoming traffic, making overtaking safer.