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Historical Facts About Audi You Didn’t Know

by Busines Newswire
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Today, Audi is a respected and revered automaker, one of the representatives of the German premium triumvirate along with Mercedes-Benz and BMW. But the brand passed through hard times, and no one could expect its success. The Indy Auto Man used Audi experts offer a look through the secret pages in the history of this German brand.

The name of the company was suggested by the son of the founder’s partner

The origins of Audi was a German engineer and entrepreneur, August Horch. At the beginning of the 20th century, due to disagreements with business partners, August left the automobile company August Horch & Cie. Motorwagen Werke AG, which he founded, and decided to launch a new brand.

At the meeting of the founders, the question of the name arose. The meeting took place in the apartment of one of Horch’s business partners, Franz Fikentscher. His son, who was doing homework, suggested translating the surname Horch into Latin. It turned out to be Audi – which means “listen”. 

A memorable meeting at Fikentscher’s apartment took place in the summer of 1909, and soon, the first car of the new brand saw the light of day. The Audi Type A, with a 2.6-liter 22-horsepower engine, was technically reminiscent of the Horch 18/22. After all, the models had the same creator.

Audi was the first among the Germans to switch to left-hand driving

The new Horch company has occupied the niche of inexpensive but high-quality cars. Audi has been striving to be premium since birth and a trendsetter too. For example, the Audi Type K debuted in 1921 as the first German model with left-hand steering. Previously, it was believed that the driver needed to sit on the right or in the center to control the side of the road. August Horch realized faster than his colleagues that controlling the median was much more crucial to safely passing oncoming traffic.

True, Henry Ford thought of this back in 1908.

Audi and Horch crossed paths

The economic crisis in Germany, which began after World War I and gripped the entire 1920s, became a challenge for the German automobile industry. Dozens of firms disappeared forever, while others had to merge to survive.

In 1928, four German brands – DKW, Wanderer, Horch, and Audi – traded independence for financial stability. In the structure of the new concern, Auto Union, each brand was assigned its market niche. The lower price segment was DKW cars, and the next level was Wanderer. At the top of the chain was the elite Horch, and Audi took on the role of premium – above average, but not the very top. The brand received its familiar logo: crossed rings represent four brands united under the wing of one concern.

Mercedes-Benz owned Audi but sold it as unnecessary

In the late 1950s, the mighty Mercedes-Benz took over Auto Union. In Stuttgart, the budget DKW was considered an addition to the premium models of its line. They allocated serious money for the new cars and engine development. Engineers did a lot of work, but Mercedes quickly became disillusioned with the purchase.

In 1964, Mercedes-Benz got rid of Auto Union, losing it to Volkswagen. At the same time, the buyer received both new four-stroke engines ready for production and engineering developments of a new generation of passenger models.

But while Mercedes-Benz saw the DKW as a budget addition to its lineup, the opposite was true for Volkswagen. Wolfsburg needed a more prestigious brand. Therefore, they scrapped the DKW brand, and its cars were renamed Audi. The Germans have not yet forgotten that this name used to sound proud.

Ferdinand Piëch made Audi premium 

The engineering expertise of Mercedes-Benz and the financial stability of Volkswagen gave Audi a second chance. Although the first post-war Audi – the F103 model – was just a converted DKW with a Mercedes engine. Good quality and competitive prices made it possible to find buyers even then.

In addition, Audi’s engineering potential strengthened after NSU joined the VW group. The Audi 50 and Audi 80 models, created together with engineers from Neckarsulm, became the basis for the extremely popular Volkswagens – the first-generation Polo and Passat.

Ferdinand Piëch, the nephew of Ferdinand Porsche and the future holder of the title “Automotive Manager of the Century,” took on the task of turning Audi into a premium car. Under his management, the 100 and Quattro models went into production, making it possible to fight on equal terms with BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

The Audi RS2 was once the fastest car in the world

The Audi RS2 station wagon, created jointly with Porsche engineers, was once considered unattainable in acceleration from a standstill to 30mph.

RS2 did this exercise in just 1.5 seconds. Not only the 315-horsepower turbo engine helped, but also, naturally, permanent all-wheel drive. While much more powerful supercars were grinding the asphalt with their tires, the RS2, with all the leading ones, confidently realized its advantage in grip.

Such a rich history of brand development allows appreciating the efforts the creators put into their cars, bringing to life the best solutions of their time. To this day, Audi remains a symbol of German reliability, regardless of the year of manufacture.