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Audi AG (Audi) is a German automobile brand founded in 1909 by August Horst.
Audi, Horch (an earlier automobile brand founded by August Horst in 1899), Wanderer and DKW merged into Auto Union AG in 1932. The four ring Audi emblem represents these four companies.
At the end of World War II the Auto Union factories were taken over by the Soviet Union who occupied the eastern part of Germany. Auto Union GmbH was restarted in Bavaria, in the western part of Germany, in 1949 and produced cars, delivery vans and motorcycles under the DKW brand, all with two-stroke engines. DKW had pioneered front wheel drive cars with transverse mounted engines in the early 1930's.
Daimler-Benz AG bought a large share of Auto Union in 1958 and the remaining shares in 1959.
Volkswagen purchased half of Auto Union in 1964 and the remaining part in 1966. The Audi brand name was resurrected with a new car model with a Mercedes developed four-stroke engine in 1965. The last DKW was produced in 1966.
NSU, a German company founded in 1873, producing cars between 1906 and 1929 and again from 1958 until 1977, merged with Audi in 1969. Many of the Audi models produced after Volkswagen took ownership of the brand were VW's with Audi badges. In secrecy and in opposition to the parent company, Volkswagen, Audi developed the Audi 100. The model was launched in 1968, again resurrecting the identity of the Audi brand.
The Quattro four-wheel drive system, a development from systems used in the DKW Munga and the Volkswagen Iltis, both small four-wheel drive military vehicles, was introduced in the 1980 performance car Audi Quattro, a coupe with constant four-wheel drive. The Quattro four-wheel drive system was later implemented to the other models in the Audi range.
Volkswagen transformed Audi to the groups premium brand in the 1980's and 90's.