Tuesday, March 8, 2011


The Automotive history of Audi. 
Audi can trace its company origins back to the turn of the century in 1899 with a German engineer called August Horch.

In 1910 at Zwickau, Germany, the first Horch automobile was launched but by 1910 August Horch was pushed out of the company he craeted. August decided to stay in Zwickau and form a new company that would still use the brand name Horch. This would lead to a law suite for the trademark Horch by his former partners too which they would win. Frustrated that Horch was unable to use his own family name for his business Horch which translate to "listen" decided to use the Latin translation of the family name which was "Audi". Many people believe that Audi is an acronym for "Auto Union Deutschland Ingolstadt" because the main factory is in Ingolstadt, Germany.

The first Audi vehicle was a 2.6 liter model and would later be followed by a 3.6, 4.7 and 5.7 four cylinder models. All models had great success.

In 1920 August Horch decide to leave Audi.

In 1924 a 4.7 litre six cylinder model was produced.

J.S. Rasmussen the owner of DKW bought the company in 1928 and later that year also bought what was left of Rickenbacker a United States automobile manufacturer, included in this purchase was the technology and equipment needed for eight cylinder engines that would be later used in the Audi Dresden and Audi Zwickau models in 1929. During this time, four and six cylinder vehicles were produced with a licence from Peugeot for the engines.

Audi became well know for its high standards producing superior bodywork and luxurious features.

Just before WWII the "Auto Union" company was formed in 1932, this comprised of four companies Audi, DKW, Horch and Wanderer, this merger would lead to the introduction of the familiar rings that exist on the badge today. With four rings interlinking each one would represent one of the merged businesses. The badge was only to be used on the racing cars for Auto Union as the individual vehicle brands were used for their own models. As time grew Audi models started to use Horch and Wanderer engines as the businesses continued to merge.

The bombing in WWII destroyed parts of the Auto Union factory and Zwickau became part of the German Democratic Republic forcing the head office to be moved in 1949 to Ingolstadt. During this time the rings and DKW badge were used together on an unpopular range of vehicles.

Daimler-Benz stepped in by 1958 to acquired a large portion of the Auto Union company, 88%, and by the end of the year would own the whole business.

A 4 door sedan with 72 Break horse Power and a four stroke engine was produced by Daimler-Benz in 1965 to re-launch the company, this model would later be labelled the Audi 72.

In 1964 Volkswagen bought the company which led to a complete technology update for VW this would prove crucial in the development of water-cooled vehicles.

Another merger was looming in 1969 with NSU, in Stuttgart, Germany they were previously the biggest producer ofmotorcycles in the world but wanted to move into the car manufacturing business and went on to produced the NSU Prinz.

The new rotary engine was the new focus for NSU which was the brain child of Felix Wankel and the NSU Ro 80 was produced in 1967, it was a futuristic car which was so far ahead of its time taking into account the safety features a light weight frame and aerodynamic shaping, but the engine had problems and this led to NSU no longer being independent.

The end of the NSU brand as a separate name was made when Volkswagen took the K70 car that NSU had designed and introduced it into its own range.

In 1968 the Audi 100 was launched and would be followed in 1972 with the Audi 80/Fox this would later be the foundation for the Volkswagen Passat in 1973.

1974 would see the introduction of the Audi 50 known today as the much loved Volkswagen Polo.

Audi had a conservative image at this time and Jorg Bensinger an engineer proposed the development of four-wheel drive for a racing car and a production Audi performance turbocharged coupe later to be labelled the "Quattro". The Quattro became the first vehicle to be produced on a large scale with full-time all-wheel drive through a centre differential. The vehicle was commonly know as the "Ur-Quattro" meaning original Quattro, the "UR-" was also used in mentioning the original sport sedans Audi S4 and Audi S6. All the vehicles were hand built buy a small team resulting in very few being made, the cars were used in rally driving and proved to be a huge success with many high profile wins that would contribute to the viability of all-wheel drive race cars. The Audi brand name became synonymous with automotive technology and the advances being made at the time.

The Audi type 89 was produced in 1986 when Audi realised the Audi 80 needed an image update this would prove to be a great success with strong sales. The issues with this vehicles where poor engine performance and the base model was very sparse in extras.

The Audi 90 was released in 1987 with a multitude of standard features compared with previous models.

By the early 90''s the Audi 80 series sales started to drop and there were construction issues.

A 60 Minutes report in the United States didn''t help sales with reports that Audi cars suffered from "unintended acceleration" this was due to the brake and accelerator pedals being to close together for the US market where a majority of drivers where using gearboxes that were automatic. Europe had no such problems as a manual transmission was widely used.

Audi sales were crushed when 60 Minutes fixed a car to perform erratically at this point Audi were thinking of leaving the US market but sales started to recover in the mid 90''s. In 1996 the Audi A4 would prove to be the saviour and along with the Audi A6 and Audi A8.

Europe is currently seeing strong growth for Audi and is well known for its build quality and understated style which has made it a desirable brand.

The Audi brand still doesn''t have the prestige of the BMW or Mercedes-Benz but in 2003 the new Audi A4 was released and the new Audi A6 was launched in 2004 both received praise from high profile news reviews and critics upstaging BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

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