Audi AG is a German automaker the produces, engineers, designs, market and produces its line of luxury vehicles. They are a member of the Volkswagen Group with roots in Germany. They have nine production locations across the world.
The company’s name is from the Latin translation August Horch’s surname, who was the founder. Horch means “listen” in German, which translates into audi in Latin. Their slogan is Vorsprung durch Technik, which means, “Advancement through Technology.” Audi USA used the slogan “Truth in Engineering” for many years.
The Audi line of vehicles is one of the most popular luxury brands in the world along with Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
A Brief Audi History
The Creation of a Company
Audi’s story began in 1899 when August Horch founded the Horch & Cie. Company in Cologne. This is where he worked to build his first vehicle. When differences happened within the board, he left the company to form a second automobile company. Unfortunately, his surname was already in use with the previous company and it was protected by trademark, so he chose Audiwerke GmbH instead.
Because of the success he had during the Austrian Alpine Runs, Horch was successful at building an international brand in just a few years. In 1904, Zschopauer Motorwenwerke began under the direction of Jörgen Skafte Rasmussen. This company manufactured boiler fittings, but later purchased a textile mill in 1906. Production began there in 1907 and was also where the steam-driven vehicle was later worked on.
In 1913, the first Wanderer went into production. This smaller vehicle had a four-cylinder 1220 cc engine. Then, in 1921, the company produced the Audi Type K, the first production car featuring a left-hand drive.
Prior to becoming part of the Auto Union AG, Horchwerke AG created the Horch 303 Berlin in 1926. It was the first eight-cylinder German vehicle to go into production. This car featured dual overhead camshafts, a displacement of 3132 cc, and 60 horsepower. It was designed by Paul Daimler.
J.S. Rasmussen went on to acquire the main portion of shares in Audiwerke AG in 1928. Starting in 1931, they mass produced the DKW, which was a smaller car that used front-wheel drive. It also had a wooden body, imitation leather design, plus a two-stroke engine. This design later became the foundation for their most successful vehicle of the 1930s, of which more than 250,000 cars were produced through 1942 at the Zwickau plant.
Auto Union AG
In 1932, there were four brands that joined forces to create the Auto Union AG. They were Wanderer, Horch, DKW, and Audi. This new company was based in Chemnitz and served multiple market segments. They had light motorcycles all the way through luxury saloon cars.
Their newest Audi was presented in 1933 at the Berlin Motor Show. It received high levels of popularity as well as the Porsche vehicles of the time. This car featured 545 horsepower and a streamlined fairing. Then, in 1949, Auto Union GmbH set up a manufacturing plant in Ingolstadt through the Marshall Plan and Bavarian State government. This is where they produced their two-stroke engine, front-wheel drive vehicles as well as their delivery van and small motorcycle. This is also the location where the DKW Meisterklasse F 89 P was produced in 1950.
Then, in 1945, the company built motorcycles at its plant in Neckarsulm. NSU later became the world’s leading manufacturer of motorbikes. They also unveiled the NSU Prinz during the 1957 German Motor Show. During the 1963 Frankfurt Motor Show, the Wankel Spider became the rage. It was a two-passenger convertible that had a single-rotor rotary piston engine, a concept that NSU was working on with Wankel since the early 1950s.
Not long after that, in 1967, NSU released an upper midsize model, referred to as the NSU Ro 80. It had a 115 horsepower twin-rotor rotary piston engine plus styling elements that would later become some of the most desired.
Time of Innovations
Audi had many years of innovations that kept the competition on its toes. The Audi 100 was developed by Dr. Ludwig Kraus, the chief engineer. It was presented to the press in 1968 and skyrocketed the Audi brand to the upper level of the mid-size class in the market. While this quickly became the company’s bestseller, it also formed the basis for their future.
In 1969, Audi joined with NSU to create the Audi NSU Auto Union. Audi was interested in the Wankel rotary piston engine. Then, in 1972, the Audi 80 was released and also become a hit. In fact, more than a million models were created and sold over a six-year period. Just two years later, in 1974, they launched the Audi 50. It was the smallest of their models and was designed in response to the energy crisis. The 50 was otherwise known as the VW Polo.
In 1980, the Audi Quattro was released as the company’s four-wheel-drive sports coupe. This Quattro system continued to enjoy worldwide success and made its way into the entire line of Audi vehicles. In fact, by 1987, the Audi Sport Quattro S1 conquered the Pikes Peak Hill Climb with its 598 horsepower engine.
After 13 years of development, in 1989, the company also perfected their refined diesel direct injection engine for cars. The TDI engine, when used with a turbocharger, achieved low-loss combustion for economical fuel consumption. That’s when the company presented their 2.5-liter five-cylinder TDI engine Audi 100 at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
They also presented a lightweight aluminum car with an ASF frame during the 1993 Frankfurt Motor Show. They continued to name their vehicles with an A to designate the all-aluminum body. The Audi 80 was changed to the A4 while the Audi 100 became the A6.
Audi History In The Modern Age
By the mid-1990s, the A4 dominated sales in the United States market. In 1995, they sold their millionth car in the States and the people wanted more. Then, in 2002, they built the A4 with a Multitronic Continuously Variable Transmission complete with FrontTrak. This technology helped the Audi A4 to become one of the most capable and dynamic in its class.
The first Audi SUV was the Pikes Peak Quattro concept in 2003. It had a V8 engine, 500 horsepower, and FSI direct-injection technology, but it never made it to production. Then the Audi Q7 arrived in 2006. This had a V8 engine, 350 horsepower, and the FSI direct-injection technology. It also came complete with the Quattro all-wheel-drive system. From the beginning, the Q7 SUV received numerous accolades including Ward & Auto Interior of the Year and many high safety ratings as well.
To celebrate their diesel technology, the R10 TDI was the star in the 2006 American Le Mans Series. They also continued to make a name for themselves in other motorsport ventures. That year also brought the entry of the Audi R8. This mid-engine sports coupe became a popular option among the top brands.
Alternative Propulsion Methods
Over the years, Audi has created numerous hybrid vehicles, many of which were concepts. Its first concept hybrid car was in 1989, named the Audi Duo. They were the first European automaker to sell a hybrid vehicle in 1997, even though they didn’t sell many. The Duo was based on the C3 100 Avant and featured a petrol engine combined with an electric motor. It had 134 horsepower, five-cylinder engine, and front-wheel-drive.
The second generation of the Duo was created in 1991 as the Duo II. It featured the Quattro four-wheel-drive. It was powered by a four-cylinder 2.0-liter engine plus electric motor. While running in electric, it could hit a top speed of 40.4 mph. In 1997, they upgraded it to the A4 Duo III. This had a 1.9-liter turbocharged direct injection diesel engine and 89 horsepower. It also had a 28 horsepower water-cooled electric motor. This front-wheel-drive vehicle plugged into an AC power outlet and featured a top speed of 49.7 mph in electric mode.
The company also unveiled an Audi Q7 hybrid 4.2 FSI Quattro at the 2005 Frankfurt Motor Show with plans to release it in 2008, but they didn’t. Instead, they released the Q5 hybrid in 2011. It was powered by a 2.0-liter TFSI turbocharged, direct injected petrol engine with 208 horsepower. The electric motor offered 241 horsepower and the Q5 was all-wheel drive. This was combined with an eight-speed automatic transmission and the lithium-ion battery sat below the trunk floor.
What the company is most known for is the Audi e-Tron system. This has been around since 2009, in concept form or production models. In 2018, the company had one e-Tron vehicle available for purchase, the A3 Sportback e-Tron.
Audi Safety and Crash Ratings
In 2017, eight Audi models were listed as Top Safety Picks from the IIHS. This was more than any other luxury automaker in its class. Some of the highlights from the picks included the A3 and Q7 as well as the A6 when equipped with the driver assistance package.
At the time, the A4 took a Top Safety Pick+ rating for the second year in a row when equipped with the LED headlights plus high beam assist. The Q5 earned the Top Safety Pick+ rating when used with the Xenon headlights and adaptive cruise control.
In 2017, U.S. News & World Report listed the 2017 Audi A4 as one of the 11 Cars with the Best Safety Features. It was ranked with a 9.6 safety score because of its standard safety equipment.
Audi Safety Equipment
Audi is known for their extensive list of safety equipment. Their driver assistance suite offers things such as Audi side assist, adaptive cruise control, pre sense, and active lane assist. In addition, the Quattro system distributes power to whichever wheels need it the most while maintaining optimal performance and control in any driving situation.
They also offer numerous airbags standard on every model. Unexpected impacts are prepared for with the normal selection of airbags as well as rear passenger thorax side airbags which are available.
Audi Safety Recalls
According to Wards Auto, the VW Group has the highest recall rate of all the automakers evaluated. Audi is included in these statistics, but considering the diesel scandal of VW, it’s hard to believe that Audi is the brand responsible for the high rating.
With that said, they did have a large recall in 2018. The recall involved more than a million vehicles due to a faulty electric coolant pump. If left untreated, it might have overheated and started a fire. Affected vehicles included the 2013 – 2016 A4, 2013 – 2017 A5, 2012- 2015 A6, and the 2013 – 2017 Q5. The coolant pumps in the 2.0-liter models were left vulnerable to moisture which might have led to an electrical short. There were reports of customer fires as a result.
Consumer Satisfaction Reports & Dependability Ratings
Customers love their Audi brand vehicles and the reports back that up. Back in 2015, Consumer Reports listed the Audi brand as the third in the top 10 most reliable car brands. This came several years after the company was labeled as one with many problems. They landed right behind Lexus and Toyota.
In 2017, Audi ranked second behind Genesis in Consumer Reports Brand Report Card. That’s not all; Consumer Reports continues to recommend all their vehicles and lists them all fairly high. In the 2018 J.D. Power U.S. Customer Service Index Study of the Luxury Brands, Audi ranked third behind Infiniti and Porsche.
There are some conflicting reports when it comes to dependability as is common among automakers. The 2017 J.D. Power research gives the Audi brand high marks in Performance and Overall Design, as well as Dependability.
Consumer Reports also ranked Audi as fourth on the list of Car Brand Reliability. They came in behind Toyota, Lexus, and Kia. They listed the least reliable model as the Audi A7 and the most reliable model as the Audi Q3.
According to Repair Pal, who determines reliability based on the cost to own, the Audi only scored average marks. They figured the annual cost to repair an Audi vehicle is about $1,011 with an average of one visit to the shop per year. They also estimated that 10% of the times, issues were due to a severe repair.
The Audi Group wins numerous prestigious awards every year. Here are some of the most notable from the past couple of years.
- Q5 and A6 named “2018 Best Cars for Families” in their classes by U.S. News & World Report.
- A8 is the “World Luxury Car 2018” during the New York Auto Show.
- Q5 named one of Autotrader’s “10 Best Car Interiors.”
- Q7 awarded “Best New Car” in luxury mid-size SUV category by Good Housekeeping.
- A3 named “Best Luxury Small Car for the Money” by U.S. News & World Report.
- A4 Named 2018 Cars.com Luxury Car of the Year.
- “Most Innovative Automaker” and “Most Innovative Infotainment System” at 2018 Consumer Electronics Show.
- Q7 earns 2018 Car and Driver “10Best Mid-Size Luxury Truck & SUV” Award for Second Consecutive Year.
- Four models earn Women’s Choice Awards at the 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show.
- A4 Wins Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Award.
- Q7 named one of Wards 10 Best User Experiences.
Audi is known for their outstanding innovations in technology. They’ve accomplished many achievements faster than their competitors and are often regarded as a leader. One of these innovations is their AI system. They’ve been working to make their vehicles fully autonomous in the future.
In addition to that, they produce 100% galvanized cars which prevent corrosion. They were also the first mass-market brand to do this, followed by Porsche. When they released this body design, it surprised the company so much that they extended their 10-year warranty against corrosion to 12-years.
Their drivetrains are also unique because they don’t use the transverse engine layout like many other economy cars. Instead, they use longitudinally front-mounted engines over the front wheels to easily adopt all-wheel-drive.
Newer models of the A3, A4, A6, and A8 replaced the 1.8-liter engine with a Fuel Stratified Injection engine. This allows vehicles to employ fuel-saving measures without sacrificing performance. They were also the first to implement white LED daytime running lights in 2005.
Starting in 2003, Audi released a centralized Multi-Media Interface. It controls all the in-car entertainment devices, navigation, as well as cooling and ventilation. It is made available with every vehicle in the company’s lineup.
Snapshot of the Company
Most of Audi’s production takes place at the headquarters located in Ingolstadt, Germany. This is also where the technical development, head office, and sales department are located. The A3, A4, and some A5 vehicles are produced at this plant.
At the Neckarsulm location, Audi produces the A4, A5, A6, A7, and A8 models. It’s known to be one of the most versatile automotive plants in the VW Group. It’s also the headquarters for the Audi Sport GmbH and the R8 series.
The company uses several other international production locations as well. In Hungary, they manufacture engines for VW and themselves. The Q3 is produced in the company’s Spanish plant. Starting in 2018, mass production of the company’s first all-electric SUV began at the Brussels plant. The Q7 comes from the Slovakian plant. Limousines are made from the A3, A4, and A6 in India as well as China. Most recently, the plant in Mexico was opened in 2016 to produce the Q5 for the world.
The Chairman of the Board for Audi AG is Rupert Stadler. He’s been in this position since 2010.
As far as Audi of America goes, their headquarters are in Herndon, Virginia. They sell a full line of coupes, sedans, SUVs, and sports cars. Scott Keogh is President of Audi of America, Inc., since June 2012. He is in charge of all the activity and has led the company through unprecedented growth.
In 2015, Audi of America hit a delivery rate of 200,000 vehicles for the first time. It was their seventh straight year of record annual sales. In 2017, they released their broadest line of vehicles which clearly paid off. Their sales grew 7.8 percent for the year, setting a new record of 226,511 deliveries.
The majority of the sales were boosted thanks to the strong performance of the Q5 and Q7 SUVs. The Q5 had a 16.3% gain from the previous year while the Q7 went up 25.5%. In addition, the A5 sales doubled for the year.
Volkswagen AG holds 99.55% of the shares in Audi AG. In addition to that, Audi is affiliated through several other brands with this partnership. Some of these include:
- Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A.
- Ducati Motor Holding S.p.A.
- Volkswagen Group S.p.A.
- FAW – Volkswagen Automotive Company, Ltd.
- Audi Sport GmbH
- Bentley Motors Ltd
- NSU Motorenwerke AG (NSU)
- Dampf-Kraft-Wagen (DKW)
Audi uses four rings as their logo. This identifies the oldest of the German automobile manufacturers from the rest. The four rings symbolize the amalgamation in 1932 between the four independent manufacturers that joined together: Audi, Horch, Wanderer, and DKW. These are the roots of what Audi is today.
The company’s tagline is Vorsprung durch Technik, which means “Progress through Technology.” This is used throughout Europe, the United Kingdom, Latin America, Japan, and Oceania. For many years, North America used the tagline, “Innovation through technology,” but that was later changed to “Truth in Engineering” for the U.S. market. Once the emissions testing scandal surfaced, the slogan was ridiculed for being distorted.
The company also promotes several teams through sponsorship. They are a sponsor of the Bundesliga club Bayern Munich. They also sponsor numerous winter sports such as the Audi FIS Alpine Ski World Cup and the German Ski Association. In golf, they are the sponsor of the HypoVereinsbank Ladies German Open and the Audi Quattro Cup. What many people don’t know is that Audi also sponsors the New York Yankees.
To promote the Audi TDI, the company launched an Audi Mileage Marathon in 2009. This driving tour featured 23 Audi TDI vehicles ranging across four models. They traveled from New York to Los Angeles and stopped at the major cities.
Audi competes in many forms of motorsports. The tradition began back in the 1930s and has led to lots of success for the company.
When Audi released their Quattro in 1980, they won several races and rallies across the world. It’s been highly regarded as a top rally car of all time, mainly because it took advantage of the ability to use four-wheel-drive capability while racing in competition. Most people thought the cars would be too complicated or heavy, yet Audi surprised them all. Not only did they win the 1983 and 1984 drivers’ titles, but they also swept the manufacturer’s title as well in 1982 and 1984.
Then, they released their shorter-wheelbase Sport Quattro which continued to dominate the rally races. In addition, Michèle Mouton won a round of the World Rally Championship and raced the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. She was the only female driver to win and also the first woman that set a record at Pikes Peak.
Audi removed themselves from international rallying in 1986 after an accident involving Joaquim Santos. He swerved to miss some spectators on the road, but in the process, he launched from the track into the spectators on the side. In total, three people were killed and 30 more injured.
In 1990, Audi entered the Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft (DTM) series with their V8 engine but eventually turned their sights on the Super Touring series in 1993. They’ve been a part of Supertourisme, the German Super Tourenwagen Cup, British Touring Car Championship, and the Italian Superturismo.
In 1998, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile banned all four-wheel-drive vehicles from entering the races. Audi changed its focus to the SCCA Speed World GT Challenge which was one of the few that still allowed 4WD. In 2003, they entered the RS6 and won the championship.
24 Hours of Le Mans
In 1999, the company starting racing their prototype sports cars at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This included the R8R and the R8C. The R8R went on to receive top honors and Audi worked on developing it further for the 2000 season. The Joest Racing Team, which was supported by the factory, went on to win three consecutive years with their R8. They also won all the races of the American Le Mans Series in 2000.
Then, in 2003, two Bentley Speed 8 vehicles, containing engines that were produced by Audi, won the top two positions, leaving the R8 to take third. That didn’t last long because in 2004, all three of the top finishers drove an R8. Then, in 2005, the R8s took first, third, and fourth place.
The company employed some innovative features when designing the R10 TDI. The first race it was used in was the 12 Hours of Sebring in 2006. It later won the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In 2011, Audi achieved their first pole position for five years, but accidents then took out two of the three vehicles. The remaining R18 TDI claimed victory to win the race for the team.
American Le Mans Series
In 2000, Joest Racing entered the American Le Mans Series. They won their debut series with an R8. They ended up winning 25 times during the next two years. In 2003, the company sold some cars off to Champion Racing who went to replace the previous Joest Racing group. Since 2009, there haven’t been any Audis in the American Le Mans Series, but some were used during the Sebring opening races.
European Le Mans Series
During the 2003 1000km Le Mans, Audi participated to prepare for the Le Mans Series in 2004. The factory team, Audi Sport UK, won both races plus the championship during 2004, but couldn’t match the success of the North American teams.
Audi museum mobile is owned by Audi AG and is located in Ingolstadt, Bavaria. It’s been open since 2000 and devotes itself to teaching the history of this automaker. The museum is located inside the glass and steel building that is formed in a circular shape. The building stands more than 70 feet high and was designed by Gunter Henn. They house 50 vehicles, 30 motorcycles, plus various exhibits on the history of the brand. There’s also a special feature that showcases 14 different cars in motion.
The company is also showcased at the August Horch Museum Zwickau in Zwickau, Saxony, Germany. It’s been open since 2004 and highlights the history of automobiles in the area. Mainly, the focus here is on the Horch brand which later became part of the company. It’s housed inside the former factory where Horch was established in 1910.
There’s also the Autostadt, otherwise known as Automobile City. It’s located next to the Volkswagen factory in Germany. The museum has various pavilions for each of its brands. The Audi building features a sphere-guide. Visitors receive the plastic sphere and activate with their photo and name. As they make their way through the museum, their sphere lights up adjacent to depressions on the wall. Then, visitors insert their sphere to hear and see the displays offered by the company. Some of the exhibits include lighting up a headlight and charging floor-mounted lights. They even have the chance to sit behind the wheel of an R8.
Financing for Audi vehicles is run through Audi Financial. Their headquarters are in Carol Stream, IL. They offer many of the typical leases and purchasing options. When looking for an Audi for lease or an Audi for sale, they are the company that helps make your dreams a reality.
They also have numerous protection plans and roadside assistance available to customers. Among the multiple sales the Audi dealerships run, Audi finance also has special offers they give to qualified buyers. They offer special pricing through the Audi Military Sales and Expatriate Program as well as their Diplomat Purchase Program.
Their College Graduate Program offers new Audi models for financing to those who’ve recently graduated. This includes Certified Pre-Owned as well. To qualify for this program, there is no credit check required and rates are competitive.
They also offer a special program for first-time buyers. All that’s needed to qualify is that this is the first time financing a vehicle and the person’s been employed for a least a year. Foreign business professionals also receive some special offers while staying in the United States.
The company runs more than 290 Audi dealerships in the United States but is currently investing an additional $1 billion in adding more facilities. When searching for an Audi dealer, it’s helpful to find one that’s been recognized from the company with the Magna Society Award. In 2017, 101 of their dealers were honored with this prestigious award. The benchmarks required are exceptional customer service and top-notch business performance.
Thirteen of the 101 dealerships were named to the Audi Magna Society Elite list, which set them even higher from the rest. States with one of these thirteen dealerships included Oregon, Missouri, and New York. California, Massachusetts, and Illinois all had two dealerships named to the list while Texas boasts of four.
Currently, there are no Audi dealerships located on the J.D. Power Dealer of Excellence Awards.
5 Interesting Facts about Audi
1 – August Horch, the founder of Audi, trained under Karl Benz. He worked as a blacksmith and received a degree in engineering. Then, he worked below Benz for three years before heading out to accomplish his own ventures.
2 – Audi is a pioneer in crash testing. They were one of the first to perform crash tests by rolling their vehicles down a hill.
3 – The Olympic committee sued Audi on charges of trademark infringement because of their logo. While there are similarities between the two, the committee never won.
4 – In 2010, the Audi TT S took part in Pikes Peak Hillclimb with no driver behind the steering wheel. Instead, it was a computer controlled car.
5 – The Audi 100 used the “100” to signify the horsepower that the car had.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where are Audis Made? Their largest and most prominent production facility is located in Ingolstadt, Germany, but there are several other facilities located throughout the world.
Are Audis Reliable? Many years ago, the brand was seen as unreliable but has since turned their reputation around. In fact, numerous publications include Consumer Reports, now list the brand as one of the most reliable and dependable.
Does Audi Own VW? It’s actually the other way around. Volkswagen owns them, as well as other companies such as Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, and overseas-brands SEAT and Skoda.
Are Audi Parts Expensive? Owning any European luxury vehicle causes people to equate that with extra expenses. When it comes to parts and maintenance, this just isn’t the case with an Audi. Most new vehicles are covered by a comprehensive warranty that covers most everything. When it is no longer under warranty, regular maintenance costs relatively the same as any other vehicle. To keep costs even lower, it’s possible to buy aftermarket parts outside the dealership.
Is Audi Care Worth It? We believe so. There’s really no situation where you don’t come ahead with Audi Care. After the initial 5,000 mile service, you are supposed to receive care every year or 10,000 miles whichever comes first. These maintenance costs could be anywhere from $200 to more than $600. By using the Care plan, you save about 50% off these costs. This is even a better option if you lease the vehicle because you are required to have the service performed.