Nothing says modern luxury like the four interwoven rings of one of Germany’s most popular car manufacturers: Audi. Audi is the luxury branch of the Volkswagen Group, and its also one of the most sought after cars among the younger demographic looking for a relevant luxury brand. Audi car designs are highly unique and competitive in the automobile industry. They’re considered a bestseller, having made over $58 billion in revenue in 2015 alone. Audi has been around for a long time now, but it hasn’t slowed down when it comes to manufacturing and keeping up with the latest and best in the automobile industry.
Having over 85,000 employees worldwide as of 2015, Audi is considerably a large company. They have two divisions: Audi e-tron and Audi India. Audi e-tron is the division that focuses on hybrid and electric concept cars. This division is Audi’s gateway to the future. The Audi India division, on the other hand, was established not only to represent the Indian market but also to be the leading luxury automobile brand in India altogether. It’s a tall order considering the demographic of the nation, yet it’s a work in progress. There’s already much progress since Audi started that program in India. In 2007, only 2% of the population’s new car buyers knew what the Audi brand was. By 2008, that number had dramatically increased to 13%, and it continues to grow to this day.
While the popularity of Audi continues to reach new markets and demographics, there is still a lot about the company that most of us didn’t know. Here are 20 cool facts about Audi that you probably didn’t know.
A hundred years old
To be exact, Audi is turning 108 years old today, but it can easily be said to be even older than that because of the history of its founding companies. That’s an impressive age for any business to cross. Audi as we know it was established on August 25, 1910 under the name Audi Automobilewerke GmbH Zwickau, but it had quite a history before that dating as far back as 1885. The roots of Audi stems from an automobile company known as Wanderer. This name will appear in Audi again later on when it becomes a branch of Audi AG. During the time of the Wanderer, another company, NSU, was also founded. NSU will eventually merge with Audi as well. Add August Horch and his automobile manufacturing company in 1899 to the mix, and the recipe for Audi is ready for a 1910 birthday.
The Audi name
Would you believe it if we told you that the name “Audi” was a suggestion from a child? It sure was. Back when August Horch owned the businesses, he was trying to come up with a name for the new car company because he was prohibited from using his own name as the car’s trade name. So he called up a meeting with some of his closest friends to discuss options and suggestions. These friends were Paul and Franz Fikentscher. It was rumored that the story goes as follows. While the men were talking, Franz’s son was playing outside close to where her father was having a meeting with Horch. The little boy kept trying to input his suggestion, but kept putting his head down in hesitation. When he finally mustered up the courage to talk to his father and his engineers, the son suggested that “audi” would be a better word to use than “horch,” which meant “hark” or “hear.” All of these ends up translating to the Latin “audi,” which means to hear.
The four rings
Audi’s four rings are representative of the merger of the four companies that made up Auto Union: Audi, Horch, DKW, and Wanderer. Auto Union used the same branding that we see in Audi cars today before World War II. However, the badge was only used on Auto Union racing cars. While that was, each of the four companies that merged together were using their own emblems on the cars they manufactured. You can see how big of a confusion that must’ve been, but remember that there were a lot fewer manufactured cars during that time, so the confusion would’ve been mild.
In September 1921, Audi introduced the Type K at the Berlin Motor Show. Up until this point, Audi only used pre-war designs on all its cars. The Type K was the first post-war design. It’s considered to be one of the most technically advanced cars of its time. It had top speeds of up to 95 km/h or 59 m/h. But the most important feature of this car that would make history was the fact that it was the first German car that introduced the left-hand drive. Being the first of its kind, it was a revolutionary feat. Eventually, due to its function and popularity, this feature became the standard in all cars from the 20s.
World War II
Wars are harsh for everyone, no matter what or when, and most companies during World War II had been affected by the war. It didn’t matter how big or successful the company was; it could still be susceptible to damages from war. The very thing happened to Audi during World War II. All the auto manufacturing plants, including Audi, were used in war and turned into production facilities for military hardware. Audi’s facilities became obvious targets for many allied forces, especially the Russians. Plants were severely bombed and damaged during the war. However, when the war was over, Audi was able to recuperate from the destruction that happened. They built on out again to continue manufacturing cars the way they did before the war happened.
Many people think that Audi is its own entity. In many ways it is, as the company surely started that way. However, it is not a well-known fact that Volkswagen actually owns the luxury giant. You can actually say that Audi is the luxury brand of Volkswagen. Before Volkswagen, Audi was actually owned by Daimler-Benz, the same group that brings Mercedes Benz to the market. You can probably surmise from this, if you don’t know already, that all these cars come from the same list of German-made automobiles. It’s an impressive feat for the nation to have such an amazing array of cars that feature some of the best in automobile engineering and design. Volkswagen acquired Audi back in 1996, but since then, Audi has targeted the higher-end market. It has since been targeting the same market, but it can’t stop from appealing to the general population as well.
Audi is all about ingenuity. They’re all about speed and functionality. Audi is about safety. Those are some of the things that the company sells to us today, and it’s attractive and fascinating. The same things applied to the company back then, even though the results are a lot different now. Audi has always valued the safety of its drivers and of its passengers. Some of the latest Audi manufactured vehicles have even received 5-star safety ratings. It shouldn’t surprise you then, that Audi was the first company to have performed a legitimate crash test. This test happened in 1938, and since then, crash testing has become a standard for all car companies when they’re testing for crash testing. You can then thank Audi for the safety precautions that cars have to have nowadays to even see the public eye.
Audi versus the Olympics
It’s been a long-standing feud, and we think it’s for absolutely no good reason at all. The four rings of the Audi logo, as representative of the four mergers the company underwent back then, was just a couple of decades younger than the Olympics’ logo. However Audi faced a ton of fierce opposition from the International Olympic Committee. The Olympic logo came about in 1912, and its five rings closely resemble the four rings of the Audi. The Olympics even took it there and sued Audi back in 1995. Audi won the lawsuit, but it doesn’t change what the Olympic committee thinks about the situation. We think that not a lot of people would mistake one for the other, especially they’re in two completely different industries altogether.
Two wheels and a load
When we think of Audi today, we think of luxury—that much has been established here. It’s only rightly so, especially since that’s something that the company has been working towards for many years now. When we think of Audi, we think of sleek luxury sedans that signify nothing but pure elegance on the road. However, in 1949, Audi actually came out with a motorcycle and a van. It’s not completely uncharacteristic for the company back then because it wasn’t necessarily marketing itself as a luxury automobile manufacturer then. It actually made sense for them to expand their line to appeal to those who trudge along on two wheels and those who need a lot of space when traveling such as families. It never took off, however, and we can’t say we miss much from that time either.
History of speed
There’s always been a rivalry that exists between Mercedes and Audi, and this rivalry goes back decades to the time before WWII. Back then, the competition pointed to speed, as both companies tried to outrun each other on the road and on the track whenever they could get the chance. Remember that this happened back in 1938 when the technology around today was still nonexistent. One Auto Union, the Type C, went up to speeds of 268.4 mph. That was highly impressive according to the standards of that day, but on that actual day of testing, Mercedes actually won the title for the fastest car, when it beat the Type C’s number by just 4/10 of a mile per hour.
There’s a legendary Audi named Shelley that once made it to the top of Pike’s Peak, a tall region in the Rocky Mountains area that goes up to over 14,000 feet in elevation. That’s high indeed, but why is this such an important feat when so many cars do it all the time? Shelley happens to be an autonomously driven Audi TTS. No one was driving this car when it made it to the very top. This driving is something that might take a professional driver something along the lines of 10 minutes to get to the top. Shelley did it in roughly 27 minutes. There may be a difference, but it’s not that much, and the car that did it in 10 minutes had more than 700 HP than Shelley.
The qualifications to build an R8
Audi has a facility that houses the best of the best in their collection—the Quattro GmbH and the R8 among a few more. This facility is known as the Neckarsulm facility, and it’s located in a city of the same name in Germany. This place is probably one of the most exclusive manufacturing factories to work at. After all, it takes over 5000 parts and over 70 hours just to build one R8. On an average workday, the facility might roll out 20 R8s or maybe even less because of how intricate the work is. So you can imagine that in order to consider yourself an employee at Neckarsulm, you have to be the best of the best as well. You’d have to have been working with Audi for years. As an added trivial fact, these workers are known as “silverliners” from within the company because most of them have actually grayed their hairs from working at Audi too long.
Here’s one fact about Audi and many German manufacturers that many people overlook or forget these days. In recent years, along with BMW and other companies, Audi has come out clean about their use of POW laborers during the World War II. It’s a history that the German manufacturers weren’t proud of, but it happened. During this time, the exploitation of Nazi slave laborers was rampant. Audi claims to have been responsible for the deaths of over 4,500 slave laborers. They say that all of it was due to the involvement Dr. Richard Bruhn, one of Audi’s founders, with the Nazi party. Some reports have also said that the company used over 3,700 slaves to do hard work in labor camps that were built by the company itself and run by SS soldiers.
Other Audi products
A couple of Audi’s former companies, the NSU and Wanderer, manufactured other products before they got into automobiles. There were making and building radios, bicycles, printers, and many other random things back then. It seems that the company has kept up the tradition to today. Audi also gets into the manufacturing of random products one being a random state-of-the-art chair. Then there’s Audi’s collection of pet products. The company has lovingly put its brand onto various pet products such as leashes, vests, and a few other things. Audi also has an electric bicycle out in the market now that’s pretty impressive and up to par with all of Audi’s standards.
Off to the moon
Audi is always trying to get ahead of the competition. And to do that, they’re heading where no other competitor might even dare to go: the moon. It’s actually going to be a space race that Google is funding. The prize money is $30 million and bragging rights that will just be out of this world. Audi has teamed up with Part-Time Scientists to manufacture a lunar rover to compete in the new-age space race. The rover has been dubbed the Audi Lunar Quattro, and it stays true to its name with a four-wheel independent drive. It looks a lot like an Audi as well, with its brushed aluminum finish and a whole host of other Audi aesthetics and mechanics: lightweight construction, piloted driving, and electric mobility among many others. The team is hoping to launch Audi Lunar Quattro sometime this year.
In 1986, news media giant CBS accused the company of manufacturing cars that accelerated unintentionally. The cars in question were the Audi 5000 models. This resulted to a significant drop in sales not only for that particular car but also for Audi in general from 1982 up until 1987. Supposedly, the problem happens when the brake pedal is pushed. This caused at least 6 people to sue the company during that time, but Audi fought and pressed that nothing was wrong with their cars. Upon further investigation, it turned out that 60 Minutes, the news program that originally made the accusations, were actually the ones that engineered the failures that they had shown on television.
How many people actually read an entire automobile handbook? Not many, we suppose, but it doesn’t mean that it’s not useful. Car manufacturers know this that’s why time and again, they put that manual in cars even though they probably know that only a small percentage of people will actually take a look at it. Audi has remedied that scenario by turning the manual experience into a more accessible digital experience. The Audi A6 has its entire handbook available digitally on screen. It’s actually a more interactive method of figuring out how your car works. But of course, it isn’t a replacement for your manual because there will be a time when you can’t access the digital version. That’s when you’ll realize that you still need the stack of bound papers that sit undisturbed in your glove compartment. Don’t ever take it out from there.
Million dollar Audi
Audi is all about luxury, and with luxury comes the appropriate price tag. While most Audi cars can run you a couple to a few hundred thousand dollars, there’s one that blows all those prices out of the water. The 2003 Audi Le Mans concept was supposed to be worth a minimum of $5 million. This is easily the most expensive Audi ever produced. This car was manufactured for presentation at the 2003 Frankfurt Motor Show. This car features a 610 HP V10 engine that can go extremely fast. Its max speed can actually reach up to 345 kph or roughly 214 mph. That’s an impressive capability that not many cars can boast of.
Most valuable Audi
There’s one Audi people are saying that might be even more expensive than the 2003 concept. The only problem is it’s difficult to prove at this time. The car in question is the Auto Union Type D. It’s supposedly the rarest car produced by Audi. This was a car that was demanded by Hitler to be made back in 1930 to show how much Germany has progressed in the automobile industry. The goal was to create a German super racing car, and to achieve that, Ferdinand Porsche suggested for Hitler to create a competition between two of the biggest rivals then: Audi and Mercedes. Long story short, the result was the Auto Union Type D. Only 5 were ever made throughout history, and Audi vowed that it will collect all five at some point. The company acquired the 3rd back in 2012, and we actually saw one auctioned off in Paris in 2007. It was expected to sell for $12 million.
Advancement through technology
Audi has always stayed true to their company motto: advancement through technology. They have continued to push boundaries since the beginning and continue to do so today. One example of the Audi ingenuity is the Audi Quattro. The Audi Quattro was the first ever rally car in the history of the World Rally Championship that has a permanent 4WD. Not many people saw this as an advantage when Audi first announced it because many believed that the cars would be too heavy with the 4WD. However, Audi engineers made their magic and created a 4WD rally car debuted with success in the WRC right away.