The origins of Audi
Audi Type E
The company traces its origins back to 1899 and August Horch. The first Horch automobile was produced in 1901 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 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. Horch immediately called a meeting at the apartment of Franz Fikentscher to come up with a new name for his 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 “listen”, which is “Audi” in Latin (compare audible). The idea was enthusiastically accepted by everyone attending the meeting. It is sometimes (incorrectly) believed that AUDI is a backronym (a reversed acronym) which stands for “Auto Union Deutschland Ingolstadt”.
Audi started with a 2,612 cc (2.6 litre) 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?rgen Rasmussen, owner of DKW. In the same year, Rasmussen bought 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 four cylinder (licensed from Peugeot) models were manufactured. Audi cars of that era were luxurious cars equipped with special bodywork.
The Auto Union era
Cover of the 1937 English motor sport magazine with an Auto Union racing car on a banked track
In 1932, Audi merged with Horch, DKW and Wanderer, to form 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 (60?kW) Horch/Auto Union V8 engine which had a top speed of 50 miles per hour.
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.
The four-ring logo
The Audi emblem is four overlapping rings that represent the four marques of Auto Union. The Audi emblem symbolizes the amalgamation of Audi with DKW, Horch and Wanderer: the first ring represents Audi, the second represents DKW, third is Horch, and the fourth and last ring Wanderer.