The Audi history begins with a man called August Horch, who founded the Company HORCH & CO in 1899.He invented his first car 1901 with the help of 15 fellow workers. The car had a max. speed of 32 km/h. In 1909 Mr. Horch had to leave his company due to major problems with the commercial management and founded another company called Audi. " Audi" is the Latin translation for "Horch" and he took that name because he wanted to build cars under his own name. So the brand "AUDI Automobilwerke GmbH" was registraded in 1910. Until the First World War some of the cars built under the Audi name won several rallies, which helped to establish the name worldwide. During the first war Audi was forced to produce vehicles for the war effort, and then after the war the recession was also a tremendous problem for the company. Therefore the founder August Horch left the management in 1920. The company managed to get through the hard times from 1927 to 1930, but in 1931 the management recognized that only a union with other vehicle manufacturer could keep Audi alive. At that time the AUTO UNION was founded, the members were DKW, HORCH, WANDERER and AUDI. The new companies insignia to show the union of the four companies was the now familiar 4 rings , which are still used by Audi today.
The new union had great success in motor sport in the ensuing years. The most powerful car that was build before the 2nd world war was a 6 litre V 16 engine with 382 KW( 582PS) in 1936. In the years during the 2nd world war the AUTO UNION once again were forced to build vehicles for German military. Many motorcycles, engines, different war vehicles and even parts for submarines were build until 1945. At that time all factories in Germany were completely destroyed by American bombers.
After the war had ended there were about 60 000 DKW military vehicles worldwide that needed spare parts and maintaince. This was the reason a new start in Ingolstadt, southern Germany was made. Soon after the war