Four interlocking rings symbolised the merger of four automobile manufacturers based in the German state of Saxony: Audi, DKW, Horch and Wanderer became Auto Union AG, then the second-largest motor vehicle manufacturing group in Germany. Here are brief details of the roots of today’s AUDI AG.
The company established by August Horch in Zwickau on July 16, 1909 could not take its founder's name for competitive reasons. A new name was found for the company by translating Horch’s name, which in German means "hark!" or "listen!", into Latin. The second company established by August Horch therefore commenced trading as Audi Automobilwerke GmbH, Zwickau on April 25, 1910.
Originally founded in Chemnitz in 1902 as Rasmussen & Ernst, the company moved to Zschopau in the Erzgebirge region in 1907. It initially manufactured and sold exhaust-steam oil separators for steam power plants, vehicle mudguards and lights, vulcanisation equipment and centrifuges of all kinds. The company's founder Jörgen Skafte Rasmussen began to experiment with a steam-driven motor vehicle in 1916, registering DKW (short for Dampfkraftwagen – steam-driven vehicle) as a trademark in 1922. In 1919, the company began manufacturing two-stroke engines, initially in the form of a working toy-engine.. In 1921, this led to a change of name to “Zschopauer Motorenwerke J.S. Rasmussen OHG.” One year later, the first motorcycles left the factory in Zschopau under the brand name DKW.
At the end of the 19th century, there were already a number of car manufacturers in Germany. One of them was August Horch & Cie., founded on November 14, 1899 in Cologne. August Horch was one of the pioneering figures in automobile engineering. Before setting up in business on his own, his professional experience had included three years in charge of automobile production at Carl Benz in Mannheim. In 1904, August Horch moved his business to Zwickau and transformed it into a joint-stock company.
In 1885 two mechanics, Johann Baptist Winklhofer and Richard Adolf Jaenicke, opened a bicycle repair workshop in Chemnitz. Shortly afterwards they began to make bicycles of their own, since demand at that time was very high. These were marketed under the brand name Wanderer, and in 1896 the company itself began to trade as Wanderer Fahrradwerke AG. Wanderer built its first motorcycle in 1902. The idea of branching out into car production was finally put into practice in 1913.