Audi Brand Heritage
In the world of luxury cars, Audi has staked out an enviable position as the choice of those who want contemporary, clean styling with world class performance.
While Mercedes has those for whom heritage, cachet and noblesse oblige matter, and BMW’s got the corner on luxury cars with an almost austere, determined Teutonic performance flair, Audis are definitely for those with an eye for design, nuance, texture and presentation—with a strong performance flair, of course.
In business for more than 100 years, Audi is an automaker that makes luxury cars and SUVs. The company was born in Germany and is based in Inglostadt, Germany today..
"Audi Automobile Works" entered the German car-manufacturing business in 1910 and remained independent until the Great Depression. Because Audi's founder, August Horch, had left a 10-year-old company bearing his own name, he chose a Latin form of his name -- Audi -- for his new company. The Word “Audi” is latin for “to listen.”
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. The first six cylinder model 4655 cc (4.7 L) appeared in 1924.
August Horch left the Audi company in 1920. In September 1921, Audi became the first German car manufacturer to present a production car with left-hand drive, the Audi Type K. Left-hand drive spread and established dominance during the 1920s because it provided a better view of oncoming traffic, making overtaking maneuvers safer.
Audi joined with three other auto manufacturers in 1932 to form Auto Union. Audi, the only surviving nameplate from that union, was purchased by Volkswagen in 1964.
Along with its reputation for fabulous exterior and interior design, Aud’s claim to fame also is its long history with all-wheel drive cars.
This can be traced back to March, 1980, and the Geneva Motor Show that month, when the world got its first look at the Audi quattro, an all-wheel-drive sport coupe. The car became the very first high performance vehicle so equipped, and that launched Audi’s long association with all-wheel-drive.
Just about every Audi model made after that time either had all-wheel-drive as a standard feature or as an option, and its use proved what many enthusiasts have come to know: all-wheel drive, because of the balance that it provides on the road, is one of the best systems you can have on a car if you wish to do high performance driving.
Audi's early experience as a trailblazer with all-wheel drive was a sign of things to come, one that foreshadowed the company's commitment to being on the cutting edge of technology.
Volkswagen introduced the Audi brand to the United States for the 1970 model year, and this period in the company’s history included the 1972 introduction of the Audi 80 or Fox as it was known in the U.S., a car that was a forbearer to the Volkswagen Passat. Later, the company unveiled the Audi 50 in 1974, and, its place in history has been guaranteed because this was the car that was the first of what would be known as Volkswagen Golf and Polo, cars which to this day are major players on the automotive
These days, Audi is one of only a handful of manufacturers to make vehicles that utilize aluminum space frame technology. Aluminum-made vehicles are significantly lighter than their steel-bodied counterparts.
This weight advantage can help improve handling, acceleration and fuel consumption, as well as noise, vibration and harshness. And the automaker is one of only a few to offer vehicles equipped with continually variable transmissions (CVTs).
By 1985, the other two brands that were part of Auto Union, NSU and Auto Unioni were both history, and the company’s name was changed to Audi AG.
In 1987, Audi put forward a new and very elegant Audi 90, which had a much superior set of standard features. In the early 1990s, sales began to slump for the Audi 80 series, and some basic construction problems started to surface.
Every car company has had to survive a crisis or two, and Audi’s problem was the show “60 Minutes.” It aired a report that claimed 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, a driving technique called heel-and-toe although modern pedal placement results in the technique using the ball of the foot on the brake and the outer edge of the foot on the accelerator; originally, it was the heel on the brake and the ball of the foot on the accelerator).
This did not become an issue in Europe, possibly due to more widespread experience among European drivers with manual transmissions.
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/A6/A8 series, which was developed together with VW and other sister brands.
By now, the crisis was long over, and Audi was already an established, and respected maker opf luxury peformance cars in this country. These days, Audi has everything in ts lineup that include the sleek, futuristic R8 ultraperformance sports coupe, the A8, widely considered to be one of the best, most luxurious sports sedan in the world, The A6, a sleek, sophisticated upscale midsized sedan, and the A4 bread and butter entry level luxury sedan and the A3, Audi’s entry level model in the US.
Currently, Audi's sales are growing strongly in Europe. 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 2005, Audi built its first two dealerships in India following its high increase in sales in the region.
Their 2007 worldwide sales have been released as 964,151 vehicles sold, yet another record for the brand. In 2008, Audi has achieved the 13th record year in a row passing the 1 million unit mark with 1,003,400 sold units.
Information sources: Automobile Journal, Edmunds.Com and Wikipedia