Audi AG is a German automobile manufacturer with headquarters in Ingolstadt, Bavaria. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group
Audi's German tagline is "Vorsprung durch Technik"; this is used either untranslated or in its English translation, "progress through
technology". The American tagline is "Never Follow".
The company traces its origins back to 1899 and August Horch. The first Horch automobile was produced in 1901 in Zwickau. In 1910, 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 a German court determined that the Horch brand belonged to his former company. August Horch was
forced to refrain from using his own family name in his new car business. As the word "horch!" translates to "hark!" in German, August Horch
settled on the Latin equivalent of his name - "audi!". It is also popularly believed that Audi is an acronym which stands for "Auto Union
Deutschland Ingolstadt". Audi produces over 2 million vehicles annually at its main production site in Ingolstadt. Audi has another production
plant in Neckarsulm.
Audi started with a 2612 cc (2.6 Liter) four cylinder model followed by a 3564 cc (3.6 L) model, as well as 4680 cc(4.7 L) and 5720 cc(5.7L)
models. These cars were successful even in sporting events. August Horch left the Audi company in 1920. The first six cylinder model ,4655
cc(4.7 L) appeared in 1924. In 1928, the company was acquired by J S Rasmussen, owner of DKW, who bought the same year the remains of the
US automobile manufacturer, Rickenbacker including the manufacturing equipment for eight cylinder engines. These engines were used in Audi
Zwickau and Audi Dresden models that were launched in 1929. At the same time, six cylinder and a small four cylinder (licensed from Peugeot)
models were manufactured. Audi cars of that era were luxurious cars equipped with special bodywork.
In 1932 Audi merged with Horch, DKW and Wanderer to form the Auto Union. Before World War II, Auto Union used the four interlinked rings that
make up the Audi badge today, representing these four brands. This badge was used, however, only on Auto Union racing cars in that period while
the member companies used their own names and emblems. The technological development became more and more concentrated and some Audi
models were propelled by Horch or Wanderer built engines. During World War II the Horch/Auto Union produced the Sd-Kfz 222 armored car,
which was used in the German army during the war. It was powered by an 81 hp Horch/Auto Union V8 Engine which had a top speed of 50 miles
Another vehicle which was used in World War II to shuttle German military officials safely was known as the Kraftfahrzeug (KFZ 11) or the Horch
Type 80. The military used it as a light transport vehicle.
Auto Union plants were heavily bombed and partly destroyed during World War II. After the war, Zwickau soon became part of the German
Democratic Republic and Auto Union headquarters were relocated to Ingolstadt in 1949. In that period, the four interlinked rings were used
together with the DKW badge. The company focused efforts on the DKW brand, but their two-stroke engines became unpopular. In 1958,
Daimler-Benz acquired 88 per cent of Auto Union and the next year became its sole owner. Daimler-Benz developed a 72 hp (54 kW) four-door
sedan, with a modern four stroke engine driving the front wheels. This model (later known as the Audi 72) appeared in September 1965,
"relaunching" the Audi brand. Daimler-Benz sold the company to Volkswagen in 1964; subsequently, Volkswagen's purchase of Auto Union has
led to the modernization of VW to which it gained expertise in manufacturing water-cooled vehicles. As of December 23, 2005, VW no longer
places previously produced aircooled powerplants into production vehicles.
In 1969, Audi merged with NSU, based in Neckarsulm near Stuttgart. In the 1950s NSU had been the world's largest manufacturer of motorcycles
but had moved on to produce small cars like the NSU Prinz (the TT and TTS versions are still popular as vintage race cars). NSU then focused on
new rotary engines according to the ideas of Felix Wankel. In 1967, the new NSU Ro 80 was a space-age car well ahead of its time in technical
details such as aerodynamics, light weight, and safety, but teething problems with the rotary engines put an end to the independence of NSU.
Presently several lines of Audi cars are produced in Neckarsulm.
The mid-sized car that NSU had been working on, the K70, was intended to slot between the rear-engined Prinz models and the futuristic Ro 80.
However, Volkswagen took the K70 for its own range, spelling the end of NSU as a separate brand.
The first Audi of the modern era was the Audi 100 of 1968. This was soon joined by the Audi 80/Fox (which formed the basis for the 1973
Volkswagen Passat) in 1972 and the Audi 50 (later, rebadged as the Volkswagen Polo) in 1974.
The Audi image at this time was a conservative one, and so, a proposal from chassis engineer Jörg Bensinger was accepted to develop the
four-wheel drive technology in Volkswagen's Iltis military vehicle for an Audi performance car and rally racing car. The performance car,
introduced in 1980, was named the "quattro," a turbocharged coupé which was also the first German large-scale production vehicle to feature
full-time all-wheel drive through a center differential (not counting the earlier British Jensen FF, produced in small numbers). Commonly referred
to as the "Ur-Quattro" (the "Ur-" prefix is a German augmentative used, in this case, to mean "original" and is also applied to the first
generation of Audi's S4 and S6 sport sedans, as in "UrS4" and "UrS6"), few of these vehicles were produced (all hand-built by a single
team) but the model was a great success in rallying. Prominent wins proved the viability of all-wheel drive racecars, and the Audi name became
associated with advances in automotive technology,
In 1986, as the Passat-based Audi 80 was beginning to develop a kind of "grandfather's car" image, the type 89 was introduced. This
completely new development sold extremely well. However, its modern and dynamic exterior belied the low performance of its base engine, and
its base package was quite spartan (even the passenger-side mirror was an option.) In 1987, Audi put forward a new and very elegant Audi 90,
which had a much superior set of standard features. In the early nineties, sales began to slump for the Audi 80 series, and some basic construction
problems started to surface.
This decline in sales was not helped in the USA by a 60 Minutes report which purported to show that Audi automobiles suffered from "unintended
acceleration". The 60 Minutes report was based on customer reports of acceleration when the brake pedal was pushed. Independent
investigators concluded that this was most likely due to a close placement of the accelerator and brake pedals (unlike American cars), and the
inability, when not paying attention, to distinguish between the two. (In race cars, when manually downshifting under heavy braking, the
accelerator has to be used in order to match revs properly, so both pedals have to be close to each other to be operated by the right foot at once,
toes on the brake, heel on the accelerator.). This did not become an issue in Europe, possibly due to more widespread experience among European
drivers with manual transmissions.
60 Minutes ignored this fact and rigged a car to perform in an uncontrolled manner . The report immediately crushed Audi sales,
and Audi renamed the affected model (The 5000 became the 100/200 in 1989, as it was elsewhere). Audi had contemplated withdrawing from
the American market until sales began to recover in the mid-1990s. The turning point for Audi was the sale of the new A4 in 1996, and with the
release of the A4/6/8 series, which was developed together with VW and other sister brands (so called "platforms").
Currently, Audi's sales are growing strongly in Europe, and the company is still renowned for having among the best build quality of any
mainstream auto manufacturer . 2004 marked the 11th straight increase in sales, selling 779,441 vehicles worldwide. Record
figures were recorded from 21 out of about 50 major sales markets. The largest sales increases came from Eastern Europe (+19.3%), Africa
(+17.2%) and the Middle East (+58.5%) . In March of 2005, Audi is building its first two dealerships in India following its high
increase in sales in the region.
Audi has recently started offering a computerised control system for its cars called MMI (MultiMedia Interface). This comes amid criticism of
BMW's iDrive control, essentially a rotating control knob designed to control radio, satellite navigation, tv, heating and car controls with a screen.
The MMI system is said to be much better, as it has a mass of buttons around a central knob, taking one to shortcuts like Radio, Nav, TV, Phone,
Car, etc. The screen, either colour or monochrome, is mounted on the upright dashboard, and on the A6 and A8, the controls are mounted
horizontally. However, an "MMI Like" system is also available on the Audi A3 and A4 models when equipped with the optional Navigation
* Allroad Quattro