Rebirth of the brand
Retention of the two-stroke engine led to DKW’s sales figures for its cars dropping continuously in the early 1960s. Faced with this situation, parent company Daimler-Benz seconded the engineer Ludwig Kraus to Ingolstadt as Technical Director and instructed him to adapt a four-cylinder four-stroke engine which was part of the “dowry” for installation in the new DKW F 102 model.
This new car from Auto Union was launched in 1965 and was the company’s first post-war design with a four-stroke engine. It heralded the start of a new era, which in turn called for a new product designation: this was the rebirth of Audi, a name rich in tradition.
The Auto Union ”Audi”, which was initially known only by this type designation, was widely advertised and became a resounding success. This model line remained in production until 1972, undergoing a few technical and visual modifications along the way. But a new era had dawned in Ingolstadt in another sense, too, because the company had become part of the Volkswagen Group in 1965. The new bosses refused to allow Ingolstadt's engineers to develop models of their own. Their plan was to use Ingolstadt's production capacity for building the VW Beetle. But they had reckoned without Ludwig Kraus, at that time Head of Development and a member of the Board of Management, who went ahead in secret with the development of a new Audi model. The resulting car, which the group management in Wolfsburg ultimately sanctioned, was first presented to the international press in Ingolstadt in November 1968. Its name: Audi 100. The Audi 100 was the first vehicle to have shaken off all genetic links with the former DKW models. The huge success of this new Audi proved its creators right. The Audi 100 also helped Auto Union to preserve its separate identity.