Vorsprung durch Technik Turns 50 | Inside Audi

Vorsprung durch Technik: A philosophy of innovation turns 50

Published on: 24/03/2022
Progress through technology. It’s a simple statement – but it represents a ton of hard work and innovation. It’s a promise to never settle; to keep improving; to never be satisfied until you’ve pushed that much further.

In German, we sum that up as “Vorsprung durch Technik.” It’s the promise Audi has made for the last 50 years. Even half a century after its inception, the world-famous slogan of the Four Rings still speaks to a fundamental truth – and, each year, a little more history gets added to it.

So, on this occasion, we’re looking back at five decades of innovations that demonstrate why “Vorsprung durch Technik” isn’t just a slogan for Audi – it’s an expression of a future-oriented approach.

The birth of a slogan

Audi was born of the 1969 merger between Auto Union GmbH (headquartered in Ingolstadt) and Neckarsulmer NSU Motorenwerke. The two joined forces to create Audi NSU Auto Union AG at the Neckarsulm location.

The new company’s range of models spanned from the air-cooled engines of the rear-wheel drive NSU Prinz series, to the water-cooled four-cylinder engines of the front-wheel drive Audi 60 and Audi 100, to the rotary engine of the futuristic-looking NSU Ro 80.
The idea to capture and express this technological diversity as a competitive advantage came in 1970 from Hans Bauer, who worked in the Audi advertising department. He came up with the slogan that people around the world would come to recognize: “Vorsprung durch Technik.”

That promise made its first appearance in print in January of 1971. Soon, customers also saw it in Audi NSU brochures. Audi 100, Audi 100 Coupé S, Audi 80 and Audi 50 – they all represented “Vorsprung durch Technik.”

The slogan was adapted over the years in many ways, including “Audi. A nice bit of technology.” or “Audi. Relaxed driving with perfect technology,” but the brand soon returned to the original message.
With the introduction of the Audi quattro in 1980, the slogan was used even more frequently in advertising. The largest illuminated advertisement in Europe at the time was installed on a high-rise along the A9 Autobahn at the exit for Ingolstadt-Nord: the reddish brown Audi oval with the slogan “Vorsprung durch Technik.” The slogan became a clear part of the Audi identity by October 1986, when it was also used in the sales brochures for the Audi 80.

Today, 50 years later, it’s synonymous with the brand.

Honouring technology that never settles

In a new special exhibit titled “50 Years of Vorsprung durch Technik” Audi will show visitors to the Audi Forum Neckarsulm its passion for technology.

But which milestones represent the biggest innovations?

“The most important milestone for me is quattro technology,” says Oliver Hoffmann, Member of the Board of Management of AUDI AG for Technical Development. “Not only was it the foundation for our rally successes, it also represents the transfer of our experience from racing into serial production. Since then, quattro and Audi go hand-in-hand.

“Equally important was the first Audi A8 with Audi Space Frame technology in 1994, which helped us finally cement our place in the premium segment.”

Really, though, there are plenty of highlights.

What became the “decade of Audi” was kicked off in Le Mans in the early 2000s. With new technologies such as FSI, Turbo-FSI, laser light, Ultra technology and hybrids, the Four Rings dominated the renowned long-distance race as the unparalleled serial winner. The aluminum compact Audi A2 1.2 TDI also made its debut. It was the first and, to this day, only four-door three-litre car.
The company made the next quantum leap in 2018 with the introduction of the Audi e-tron, the first fully electric Audi vehicle to go into serial production, boasting a range of 400 kilometres and blazing the trail for premium electromobility. Three years later came the market launch of the Audi e-tron GT, revolutionary in its design and proof that the future of e-mobility will be exciting.

Audi’s newest campaign, “Future is an Attitude,” underlines the brand’s what-comes-next approach, always questioning age-old views of mobility.

At the end of the 2010s, sustainability became a core company goal. “This is why Audi is consistently dedicated to the environment, pulling together numerous measures for resource efficiency and reducing the ecological footprint in its location-independent environmental program ‘Mission Zero,’” offers Hildegard Wortmann, Member of the Board of Management of AUDI AG for Sales and Marketing. The goal for Audi is to be carbon-neutral by 2025.
“We are developing into a provider of sustainable premium mobility and want to be a leader here. That’s why we are focusing our efforts to be a technological leader on environmentally friendly driving. It is in line with this that Audi will not be introducing any new models with combustion engines from 2026,” she Wortmann.

And the push for electrification will continue: “We are redefining advancement and focusing on sustainability, digitalization and electrification. It’s about making a contribution to a liveable future with meaningful technology.”

As for whether the push for new technologies makes it easier for Audi to continue to push this advancement, Hoffmann says, “It has always been our prerogative not to be driven by change but to be drivers of change.

“Audi will not rest on the technological advancement of the past years. Audi is the most progressive premium brand because we always view the future as an opportunity and shape it actively. ‘Vorsprung’ is a state of mind.”

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