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VW Group ‘to adopt Auto Union name’

Ring in the changes: The four companies that joined to form Auto Union in the 1930s are represented by the rings of its original badge.

Rumours suggest Volkswagen head office might take historic Auto Union name

16 Jul 2014

GLOBAL automotive giant Volkswagen Group might be on the brink of world re-branding, with sources suggesting to GoAuto that the German company could resurrect the VW-owned but dormant Auto Union nameplate as the umbrella title for the group.

Volkswagen and Audi spokespersons in Australia told GoAuto that they were unaware of any plans to resurrect the name or change the VW Group title, but a source said such a move could be on the cards.

Under such an arrangement, Volkswagen would become the name of the range of VW-badged vehicles, separating the affordable product branding from the overall corporate image.

The theory goes that head office would adopt the historic Auto Union brand that dates from the 1930s when four German car manufacturers joined forces to create a competitor for the likes of Mercedes-Benz, creating the famous four-ringed symbol now used exclusively by VW-owned Audi.

Volkswagen Group also owns high-profile, high-performance vehicle-makers such as Lamborghini, Bentley and Bugatti amongst its 10 vehicle brands, as well as Italian motorcycle manufacturer Ducati.

Volkswagen Group Australia communications general manager Karl Gehling told GoAuto: “I've never heard the rumour. It’s a new story to me, but I’ll certainly keep an ear out now.” Audi Australia senior product communications executive Shaun Cleary told GoAuto that from Audi’s perspective, there were no plans to resurrect the Auto Union name, which represents Audi’s heritage, especially for racing before World War 2.

Mr Cleary said questions regarding Volkswagen Group matters could only be answered by VW.

Auto Union was formed in 1932 when the four German companies – Audi, DKW, Horch and Wanderer – merged.

Production was halted in World War 2, but resumed in 1949 with production of DKW two-stroke cars.

Rival Daimler Benz acquired 87 per cent of the company in 1958 and resurrected the Auto Union name, but sold out to VW in 1964.

The Audi name was also resumed a year later with the introduction of a car that became known as “the Audi”.

A move to rename VW Group would bring the corporation into line with rival Daimler, which sells its vehicles under the separate Mercedes-Benz, Smart, Fuso and Freightliner badges.

The Volkswagen Group owns Audi AG, Automobili Lamborghini, Bentley Motors, Bugatti Automobiles, Porsche AG, Ducati Motor Holding, SEAT, Skoda Automobilova, Volkswagen commercial Vehicles and Volkswagen Cars, as well as shares in Scania, MAN and the Suzuki Motor Corporation.

It is not the first time such a move has been mooted. The automotive giant was reportedly considering changing its name from Volkswagen Group to Auto Union to avoid confusion between the entities in 2004.

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