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    Audi AG is a German automobile manufacturer that designs, engineers, produces, markets and distributes luxury vehicles. Audi is a member of the Volkswagen Group and has its roots at Ingolstadt, Bavaria, Germany. Audi-branded vehicles are produced in nine production facilities worldwide.

    The origins of the company are complex, going back to the early 20th century and the initial enterprises (Horch and the Audiwerke) founded by engineer August Horch; and two other manufacturers (DKW and Wanderer), leading to the foundation of Auto Union in 1932. The modern era of Audi essentially began in the 1960s when Auto Union was acquired by Volkswagen from Daimler-Benz.[9] After relaunching the Audi brand with the 1965 introduction of the Audi F103 series, Volkswagen merged Auto Union with NSU Motorenwerke in 1969, thus creating the present day form of the company.

    The company name is based on the Latin translation of the surname of the founder, August Horch. "Horch", meaning "listen" in German, becomes "audi" in Latin. The four rings of the Audi logo each represent one of four car companies that banded together to create Audi's predecessor company, Auto Union. Audi's slogan is Vorsprung durch Technik, meaning "Advancement through Technology". However, Audi USA had used the slogan "Truth in Engineering" from 2007 to 2016, and have not used the slogan since 2016.[10] Audi, along with BMW and Mercedes-Benz, are among the best-selling luxury automobile brands in the world.

     

    Birth of the company and its name

    Automobile company Wanderer was originally established in 1885, later becoming a branch of Audi AG. Another company, NSU, which also later merged into Audi, was founded during this time, and later supplied the chassis for Gottlieb Daimler's four-wheeler.[12]

    On 14 November 1899, August Horch (1868–1951) established the company A. Horch & Cie. in the Ehrenfeld district of Cologne. In 1902, he moved with his company to Reichenbach im Vogtland. On 10 May 1904, he founded the August Horch & Cie. Motorwagenwerke AG, a joint-stock company in Zwickau (State of Saxony).

    After troubles with Horch chief financial officer, August Horch left Motorwagenwerke and founded in Zwickau on 16 July 1909, his second company, the August Horch Automobilwerke GmbH. His former partners sued him for trademark infringement. The German Reichsgericht (Supreme Court) in Leipzig,[13] eventually determined that the Horch brand belonged to his former company.

     

    Since August Horch was prohibited from using "Horch" as a trade name in his new car business, he called a meeting with close business friends, Paul and Franz Fikentscher from Zwickau. At the apartment of Franz Fikentscher, they discussed how to come up with a new name for the 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 audiinstead of horch?"[15] "Horch!" in German means "Hark!" or "hear", which is "Audi" in the singular imperative form of "audire" – "to listen" – in Latin. The idea was enthusiastically accepted by everyone attending the meeting.[16] On 25 April 1910 the Audi Automobilwerke GmbH Zwickau (from 1915 on Audiwerke AG Zwickau) was entered in the company's register of Zwickau registration court.

    The first Audi automobile, the Audi Type A 10/22 hp (16 kW) Sport-Phaeton, was produced in the same year,[17] followed by the successor Type B10/28PS in the same year.[18]

    Audi started with a 2,612 cc inline-four engine model Type A, followed by a 3,564 cc model, as well as 4,680 cc and 5,720 cc models. These cars were successful even in sporting events. The first six-cylinder model Type M, 4,655 cc appeared in 1924.[19]

    August Horch left the Audiwerke in 1920 for a high position at the ministry of transport, but he was still involved with Audi as a member of the board of trustees. In September 1921, Audi became the first German car manufacturer to present a production car, the Audi Type K, with left-handed drive.[20] Left-hand drive spread and established dominance during the 1920s because it provided a better view of oncoming traffic, making overtaking safer.[20]

    The merger of the four companies under the logo of four rings

    Main article: Auto Union

    In August 1928, Jørgen Rasmussen, the owner of Dampf-Kraft-Wagen (DKW), acquired the majority of shares in Audiwerke AG.[21] In the same year, Rasmussen bought the remains of the U.S. 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 (the "four" with a Peugeot engine) 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 Auto Union AG, Chemnitz. It was during this period that the company offered the Audi Front that became the first European car to combine a six-cylinder engine with front-wheel drive. It used a powertrain shared with the Wanderer, but turned 180-degrees, so that the drive shaft faced the front.

    Before World War II, Auto Union used the four interlinked rings that make up the Audi badge today, representing these four brands. However, this badge was used 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.

    Reflecting the economic pressures of the time, Auto Union concentrated increasingly on smaller cars through the 1930s, so that by 1938 the company's DKW brand accounted for 17.9% of the German car market, while Audi held only 0.1%. After the final few Audis were delivered in 1939 the "Audi" name disappeared completely from the new car market for more than two decades.

     

    Like most German manufacturing, at the onset of World War II the Auto Union plants were retooled for military production, and were a target for allied bombing during the war which left them damaged.

    Overrun by the Soviet Army in 1945, on the orders of the Soviet Union military administration the factories were dismantled as part of war reparations.[22]Following this, the company's entire assets were expropriated without compensation.[22] On 17 August 1948, Auto Union AG of Chemnitz was deleted from the commercial register.[21] These actions had the effect of liquidating Germany's Auto Union AG. The remains of the Audi plant of Zwickau became the VEB (for "People Owned Enterprise") Automobilwerk Zwickau or AWZ (in English: Automobile Works Zwickau).

    With no prospect of continuing production in Soviet-controlled East Germany, Auto Union executives began the process of relocating what was left of the company to West Germany. A site was chosen in Ingolstadt, Bavaria, to start a spare parts operation in late 1945, which would eventually serve as the headquarters of the reformed Auto Union in 1949.

    The former Audi factory in Zwickau restarted assembly of the pre-war-models in 1949. These DKW models were renamed to IFA F8 and IFA F9 and were similar to the West German versions. West and East German models were equipped with the traditional and renowned DKW two-stroke engines. The Zwickau plant manufactured the infamous Trabant until 1991, when it came under Volkswagen control—effectively bringing it under the same umbrella as Audi since 1945.

     

    Audi AG today

    Audi's sales grew strongly in the 2000s, with deliveries to customers increasing from 653,000 in 2000 to 1,003,000 in 2008. The largest sales increases came from Eastern Europe (+19.3%), Africa (+17.2%) and the Middle East (+58.5%). China in particular has become a key market, representing 108,000 out of 705,000 cars delivered in the first three quarters of 2009. One factor for its popularity in China is that Audis have become the car of choice for purchase by the Chinese government for officials, and purchases by the government are responsible for 20% of its sales in China.[37] As of late 2009, Audi's operating profit of €1.17-billion ($1.85-billion) made it the biggest contributor to parent Volkswagen Group's nine-month operating profit of €1.5-billion, while the other marques in Group such as Bentley and SEAT had suffered considerable losses.[38] May 2011 saw record sales for Audi of America with the new Audi A7 and Audi A3 TDI Clean Diesel.[39]In May 2012, Audi reported a 10% increase in its sales—from 408 units to 480 in the last year alone.[40]

    Audi manufactures vehicles in seven plants around the world, some of which are shared with other VW Group marques[41] although many sub-assemblies such as engines and transmissions are manufactured within other Volkswagen Group plants.