The name comes from the Latin translation of the original founder's last name, Horch, which means "hark!" in German, with Audi being the singular of audire in Latin ("to listen"). The original name for Audi was Audi Automobilwerke, later becoming Audi. The four rings of Audi are the trademark symbol of Auto Union, a pre-WWII conglomerate that included the merger of Audi, Daimler, Wanderer, and Dampf-Kfraft-Wagen (DKW). It was after this that the Audi name stopped being used because of manufacturing restrictions during World War II. After the war, Audi was split in two, with the East German Auto Union plants becoming People Owned Enterprise and the West German Auto Union until they were merged when VW acquired the East German automaker in 1991. By then, the Audi name was well-established in the western world.
Today, Audi enjoys strong sales globally along with many accolades for its engineering, performance, and luxury. In the United States, Audi is best-known for both its performance sedans and its clean diesel (TDI) offerings. The company has won awards including the Green Car Award, engineering awards for its space-frame technology, and sports records from its R8 models. The company has also been recognized by journalists for its electrified concept vehicles.
Audi is well-known in motorsports circles as well, having competed since the 1930s. In the Americas, Audi has competed in the Trans-Am, International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) GTO and famously dominated the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) Formula (F1) series until four-wheel driven cars were banned from F1 in the late 1990s. By then, Audi had moved to sports car circuits, continuing their SCCA dominance in the early 2000s. Audi has also set several records and won titles in the Le Mans series, including a powerful win as the first American-based team to win Le Mans in nearly forty years with their 2005 24 Hours of Le Mans victory through Champion Racing. Audi's diesel racers in the series have continued to be a dominant force, their latest victory being in 2011.
Audi is a well-known and highly respected nameplate with a popular lineup of vehicles.