From Front-wheel Drive to Armament Production.
1931 - The World's First Volume-built Car With Front-wheel Drive
In August 1928, J. S. Rasmussen acquired the majority of shares in Audiwerke AG in Zwickau. Here, beginning in 1931, he produced the DKW small car with front-wheel drive in large numbers. The small car had a wooden body covered in imitation leather and the standard DKW two-stroke engine. This design formed the basis for one of the most successful German small cars of the 1930s, over 250,000 of which were produced at Zwickau plant until 1942.
1932 - Auto Union AG is Established
On June 29, 1932, the four Saxon vehicle brands - Audi, DKW, Horch, and Wanderer - joined forces to create Auto Union AG. The new company group, based in Chemnitz, was able to serve all market segments, from light motorcycles to luxury saloon cars.
1933 - First Audi with Front-wheel Drive
At the 1933 Berlin Motor Show, Auto Union AG presented the new Audi, its first standard-size passenger car with front-wheel drive. The company used a kind of modular design principle for the first time and the Wanderer six-cylinder engine.
1934 - Auto Union Grand Prix Racing Cars
The new Auto Union received its greatest popularity boost with the success of a racing car that was based on Ferdinand Porsche's design. The vehicle's aerodynamics were greatly enhanced by installing the six-cylinder engine behind the driver.
1936 A New Head Office in Chemnitz
In 1936 the group management of Auto Union, which had previously directed the company from Zschopau, moved into its new main office building in Chemnitz. In the same year, central facilities for design, development and testing were set up in Chemnitz.
1937 - Auto Union 16-cylinder Streamliner Racing Car
The Auto Union racing cars were high-tech products in their time. They stood for supreme achievements in motor-vehicle construction that concentrated above all on high-performance engines, aerodynamic design, and the systematic use of lightweight construction. The Auto Union car with streamlined fairing and an output of 545 horsepower was the first to exceed a speed of 400 km/h on a normal road.
1938 - Crash and Rollover Tests at Auto Union AG
In 1938, Auto Union AG became one of the first manufacturers in the motor-vehicle industry to conduct systematic rollover and crash tests. Various DKW models with sheet-metal, wooden, and plastic bodyshells were tested in order to examine the unique rollover behaviors of each body type.
1941 Armaments Production
With the development and production of special vehicles for military purposes, Auto Union became an important supplier of vehicles to the armed forces in the mid-1930s. Following the outbreak of war, civilian production was interrupted in May 1940. After this, the company produced exclusively for military purposes.