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AUDI Car Design History - Automobile manufacturer

Audi began working secretly on the development of the Audi 100 during the 1960s, unbeknownst to its parent company Volkswagen. Decisions concerning the development of new models by the ailing subsidiary would normally have been made in Wolfsburg. But everything turned out for the best. The VW board liked the car, and Audi rose like a phoenix from the ashes. Until then the name of Audi was hardly known, even though the company had been in existence for over fifty years as part of Auto Union, a conglomerate of Saxony car manufacturer s that included Audi, DKW, and Wanderer. The famous Audi logo of four interwined rings was originally a symbol representing the four members of Audi Union.

After the Second World War, Auto Union began to develop two-stroke engines under the DKW name, but low sales threatened its future survival. This was followed by a six-year interlude under the wing of Mercedes, until Volkswagen took over the supposedly unsalable stock. At the end of the 1960s, VW also absorbed the motorcycle and car manufacturer NSU. The NSU range included the little Prinz models, the work of the company's designer Claus Luthe, one of the pioneers of German car design who lare worked for Volkswagen and BMW. In 1967, Luthe caused a sensation at the Frankfurt Motor Show with the NSU RO 80, the first automobile with a Wankel rotary engine. As well as being remarkable technically, the RO 80 was also an aesthetic pioneer, with its flat hood, rising waistline and short tail. This wedge shape, frequetly updated by Luthe himself, heralded a new trend in car design that servived well into the 1990s. By then the innovative NSU manufacturer had long vanished, and the number of RO 80s manufacturer was less then 40,000.

Audi would probably have disappeared as well had it not been for the amazing success of the Audi 100, a car which appealed to the rising middle class. The smaller Audi 80 soon followed. In the early 1980s, Audi developed a car with permanent four-wheel drive, the Audi 80 Quattro, the first of a new model range. Most Audi models were still very conventional, apart from the Quattro models which had a spoiler reminiscent of competition cars. This spoiler was integrated into the front bumper, pointing to a future trend, but apart from this the characteristic shape of the car was unchanged. During the 1980s, Audi made no dramatic design changes but refined every detail. For example, the Audi 80, launched in 1986, had a flush-fitting windshield above a raised hood that concealed the windscreen wiper pivots, sunken door handles, a relatively small roof area, and very compact, smooth silhouette. This hard work paid off: the car had the remarkably low drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.29.

"The criticism that all cars look alike has been around for many years" says Peter Schreyer. "I believe there is a strong trend towards changing this." Schreyer has contributed very substantially to ending the long years of boredom. He is one of the leading contemporary car designers and has been head of design at Audi since the mid-1990s, where he has made sure that matters of design are at the very top of the Audi list of priorities. This has greatly improved the company's image, and it has also led to vastly increased sales figures. The new flagships are the A4 and A6, the successors to the Audi 80 and Audi 100.

When Audi launched the entirely revamped A6 at the end of the 1990s, its character was still related to its predecessor, but the overall impression of the car had completely changed. There are some obvious differences: for instance, the wheelbase is longer and the front and back overhangs are shorter. The higher rear lights and the soft, rounded lines of the back of the car contribute to its innovative appearance, which has quickly become accepted. The whole body is rounded with flowing lines. With its dome like roof, bow-shaped rear, and rounded nose, this car marks a new era in car design, replacing the box and wedge shapes. It was only a question of time before the station wagon version of the A4 won the highly regarded Bundespreis (Federal prize) for product design. Audi shocked the competition again when it launched the TT Coupe, a powerful machine that started life as a design study. In this category too, Audi has created a new icon whose contemporary aesthetic image is completely convincing. As Schreyer candidly states: "In design one must have a revolution from time to time."

AUDI Car History

AUDI AG, Ingolstadt

1909 August Horch founds Audi in Zwickau
1925 German crown prince buys M sedan
1928 automobile manufacturer DKW buys Audi
1932 Audi, DKW, Horch and Wanderer from Audi Union with headquarters in Chemnitz (new logo: four rings)
1958 Mercedes takes over Auto Union
1959 factory in Ingolstadt
1965 VW acwuires shares an Auto Union (1966 100% subsidiary)
1969 Auto Union merges with NSU (Claus Luthe designer since 1956)
1993 Audi AG becomes a marque with its own management
1994 Peter Schreyer becomes chief designer
1996 German Government Product Design Prize for A4 Avant station wagon
1998 takeover of automobile companies Cosworth and Lamborghini
1999 Design team of the year (NRW design centre)

AUDI Car Models History

1912 C "Alpine winner" open sedan
1925 M sedan
1928 R Imperator luxury sedan
1933 Front sedan
1965 Audi 100 sedan
1967 NSU Ro 80 sedan
1969 Audi 100 Coupe

Audi 80 sedan by Bertone

1982 Audi Quattro sprts sedan
1986 Audi 80 new generation
1994 A4 and A6 model range
1996 A3 model range
1997 TT Coupe launched in Japan (1998 in Germany)

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