14th July 2021

Audi celebrates fifty years of "Vorsprung durch Technik"

Progress through Technology…

Better known as “Vorsprung durch Technik”, the slogan that has been synonymous with Audi for some time now – fifty years to be exact. With all that history behind it, Audi are celebrating the golden anniversary of their world-famous slogan by taking a look back at the innovations that demonstrate why “Vorsprung durch Technik” perfectly demonstrates the company’s focus on the future.

In 1969, Auto Union GmbH and Neckarsulmer NSO Motorwerke merged to form Audi NSU Auto Union AG. The new company had a range of models from the air-cooled engines of the rear-wheel drive NSU Prinz series, to the rotary engine of the NSU R0 80. With the technological diversity this merger brought, it made sense to market it as a competitive advantage, and in 1970 that’s exactly what Hans Bauer in the Audi NSU advertising department decided to do, and the slogan “Vorsprung durch Technik” was born.

The new slogan debuted in a large-scale ad in January 1971 and started to feature in Audi NSU brochures. Over the years, the slogan was adapted in many ways, including “Audi, a nice bit of technology.” Or “Audi, relaxed driving with perfect technology.” But they soon returned to the original slogan. With the Audi Quattro being introduced in 1980, Audi put the largest illuminated advertisement in Europe at the time on a high-rise along the A9 Autobahn – “Vorsprung durch Technik.” shone above the freeway in the reddish-brown Audi oval. From 1986, the slogan was used in the brochure for the Audi 80, and today it is a key part of Audi’s identity.

With a new exhibit titled “Living Progress – 50 years of Vorsprung durch Technik” debuting in December for visitors to the Audi Forum Neckarsulm, Audi will be showcasing it’s passion for innovation and technology throughout the years.

There’s no doubt that Audi have made strides in their continued drive for innovation, but which milestone in their history is most important? Oliver Hoffmann, Member of the Board of Management at Audi AG for technical development said: “The most important milestone for me is quattro technology. 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 helps us finally cement our place in the premium segment.”

The “decade of Audi” was kicked off in Le Mans in the early 2000s, dominating the renowned long-distance race as serial winner by using new technologies such as FSI, Turbo-FSI, laser light, Ultra technology and hybrids. The aluminium compact A2 1.2 TDI also made it’s debut as the first and only four-door three-litre car.

In 2018, the Audi e-tron became the first fully electric Audi vehicle to go into serial production, boasting a range of 400 kilometres and setting the standard for premium electromobility. Three years later, the Audi e-tron GT proved that e-mobility can still be exciting.

At the end of the 2010s, Audi set their sights on sustainability. “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,’” says Hildegard Wortmann, Member of the Board of Management of AUDI AG for Sales and Marketing. With a goal to be carbon neutral by 2050, Wortmann continues: “We are developing into a provider of sustainable premium mobility and want to be a leader here. Which is 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.” The push for electrification in the auto industry continues: ““We are redefining advancement and focusing on sustainability, digitalization and electrification. It’s about making a contribution to a liveable future with meaningful technology.”

When discussing whether the societal push for new, more sustainable technologies makes it easier for Audi to continue to innovate, Hoffman says: “It has always been our prerogative not to be driven by change but to be drivers of change. In the age of new mobility, we don’t just see advancement as the highest art of engineering, state-of-the-art design and a digital experience. We also think outside the car. In the future, it will be more about comprehensive mobility solutions, which includes the matter of infrastructure. With the pilot of the Audi charging hub, we have developed a flexible quick-charging concept for future peak demands that can be used at various locations.” Wortman adds: “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.”

What do you think is the biggest milestone for Audi in the last fifty years? Let us know in the comments.