Vorsprung durch Technik – advancement through technology – three words that sum up an attitude and the driving force of the Audi brand.

5 July, 2021

Vorsprung durch Technik. Three words that are synonymous with the Audi brand and that capture the very essence of the company. The literal English translation is ‘advancement through technology’ and for 50 years, these three words have defined the brand’s ethos world-wide.

This famous motto was born out of a need to express the extraordinary advancements made by the brand – something that summed up the sheer technical diversity that at the time included reciprocating and rotary piston engines, air and water cooling, front and rear-wheel drive to name just a few.

Even at the time it was no small task to try and communicate that enormous technological know how and the great benefits it represented in just a few words and since then, the Audi brand has only added to that formidable repertoire with the likes of quattro and e-tron – technologies that have entered the automotive lexicon.

It was a member of the Audi NSU Advertising Department by the name of Hans Bauer, who is credited with first using Vorsprung durch Technik in an official capacity – the phrase first appearing in official brand advertising in early 1971. From there it struck a chord internationally, despite early concerns that using the native German rather than a translation for English-speaking countries might be confusing. The decision of course was to keep it in its native German and it has gone on to become one of the most famous and recognisable automotive slogans of all time.

But Vorsprung durch Technik is so much more than a slogan – it is very much an attitude and a guiding principle at Audi.

The last five decades have seen that advancement, that Vorsprung, progress at an astounding rate. Groundbreaking new models, innovations and new technologies that were once the stuff of science fiction are now realities and a whole new era of mobility is upon us. 

Audi’s Head of Design, Marc Lichte, first encountered Audi at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1983 when he was just a child of 14, and that first exposure to the brand has shaped his life, just as he has gone on to help shape the brand’s creations.

“That was the first time I saw the Audi Sport quattro,” he remembers. “The car was simply so different, so new, so impressive to me.” 

“The Audi brand has developed at an incredible pace over the last 50 years, and the reason Audi has managed to pull this off is that they do things differently to the competition.”

“There is a very clear mindset here and that is truly Vorsprung and I believe that design really is a major element of this Vorsprung because we use the technology and make it visible,” says Lichte.

“Throughout the years, the Audi design has essentially been the symbiosis of this innovative technology combined with a progressive design.”

“I think the next 50 years will be even more radical,” Lichte enthuses, his latest creation, the Audi e-tron GT, a perfect example of this – marrying classic design with the very latest in electric mobility. This change from internal combustion engine to all-electric drive opened up a raft of new design possibilities which Lichte says will only increase as more new technologies – like autonomous driving – arrive on the scene.

“For me, Vorsprung durch Technik is an attitude,” says Lichte. “Question everything, improve, always be a step or two ahead.”