The Olympic rings, wedding rings and Audi’s four rings, undoubtedly, are some of the first words that can come to one’s mind when thinking about the commercial usage of the circular object. While the Olympic rings symbolize five continents, and a wedding ring represents unity, love, and an unbreakable bond, do you know the meaning behind Audi’s four rings in its logo?
One June 29, 1932, exactly 90 years ago, four companies, namely Audiwerke AG, Horchwerke AG, and Zschopauer Motorenwerke J. S. Rasmussen AG (DKW), merged to form Auto Union AG. At the same time as the companies were coming together under one legal entity, they were also finalizing discussions to buy and lease Wander Werke AG’s automotive division. With the new group being based in Chemnitz, Germany, it became the second-largest moto vehicle group in Germany, incidentally, covering four different market segments with their products.
Retaining the brand names of the four companies meant that Auto Union AG was able to build motorcycles and small cars under the DKW brand, as Wanderer, Audi, and Horch were responsible for mid-size, deluxe mid-size, and luxury cars, respectively. The interlocked company operated successfully until the outbreak of World War Two, following which, re-established itself as Auto Union GmbH in Ingolstadt, Bavaria, Germany, in 1949.
Despite the fact that the brand Auto Union AG survived a takeover from Volkswagen in 1964 and a merger with NSU Motorenwerke in 1969, its final days were counted once the carmaker’s name was shortened to Audi AG in 1985. Auto Union AG was left as a legal entity to carry on the historical trademarks and other intellectual property of the original four companies that joined forces in 1932 and formed the four-ring emblem that has come to symbolize the German luxury brand for decades.