Audi's corporate tagline is Vorsprung durch Technik, meaning "Advancement through Technology". The German-language tagline is used in many European countries, including the United Kingdom, and in other markets, such as Latin America, Oceania and parts of Asia including Japan. The North American tagline is "Innovation through technology", but in Canada the German tagline Vorsprung durch Technik is now used in advertising.
The company traces its origins back to 1899 and August Horch. The first Horch automobile was produced in 1901 in Zwickau. In 1909, Horch was forced out of the company he had founded. He then started a new company in Zwickau and continued using the Horch brand.
His former partners sued him for trademark infringement and a German court determined that the Horch brand belonged to his former company. August Horch was barred from using his own family name in his new car business, so he called a meeting at the apartment of Franz Fikentscher to come up with a new name for his company. During this meeting Franz's son was quietly studying Latin in a corner of the room. Several times he looked like he was on the verge of saying something but would just swallow his words and continue working, until he finally blurted out, "Father– audiatur et altera pars... wouldn't it be a good idea to call it audi instead of horch?". "Horch!" in German means "Hark!" or "listen", which is "Audi" in Latin (compare audible). The idea was enthusiastically accepted by everyone attending the meeting. It is sometimes (incorrectly) believed that AUDI is a backronym (a reversed acronym) which stands for "Auto Union Deutschland Ingolstadt".
Audi started with a 2,612 cc (2.6 litre) four cylinder model followed by a 3564cc (3.6 L) model, as well as 4680cc (4.7 L) and 5720cc (5.7L) models. These cars were successful even in sporting events. The first six cylinder model, 4655cc (4.7 L) appeared in 1924.
August Horch left the Audi company in 1920. In September 1921 Audi became the first German car manufacturer to present a production car with left-hand drive, the Audi Type K. Left-hand drive spread and established dominance during the 1920s because it provided a better view of oncoming traffic, making overtaking manoeuvres safer.