AUDI AG is able to look back on an exciting and varied past – its tradition of car and engine manufacturing extends back into the 19th century. It all began with August Horch, one of Germany's pioneering personalities automobile engineers.
After graduating from the Technical University in Mittweida, Saxony, Horch’s first job was with Carl Benz in Mannheim, initially in the Engine Manufacturing Department and later as Head of the Motor Vehicle Construction Department. He set up business on his own in 1899, establishing Horch & Cie. Motorwagen Werke in Cologne on November 14 of that year.
Horch moved to Saxony in 1902, first to Reichenbach then in 1904 to Zwickau, where the company was transformed into a joint-stock corporation. Following differences of opinion with the Board of Management and Supervisory Board, August Horch left the company in 1909 and immediately established a second car company in Zwickau. Because his surname was already in use and was protected by trademark, he chose its Latin translation for the new company. So "horch!" – or "hark" – became "audi!". The idea of using the Latin imperative form came from the son of one of August Horch's business partners; the boy, well-versed in Latin, had overheard the discussion about the search for a new company name. In subsequent correspondence, August Horch even signed his letters with the words "Kind regards – Audi-Horch". Audi Automobilwerke GmbH itself became a joint-stock company in December 1914.
The Audi brand established a tradition of sporting achievement from the very outset. Thanks to his victorious involvement in the Austrian Alpine Runs between 1911 and 1914, August Horch succeeded in making Audi internationally known within just a few years. The notably successful Audi Type C 14/35 hp even acquired the nickname "Alpine Conqueror". After the First World War August Horch withdrew from the company and moved to Berlin to work as an independent automotive expert.