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AUDI AG: Double World Premiere for Anniversary

July 17th, 2009
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Audi celebrated its 100th birthday in Ingolstadt last night with two world premiers.

At the evening gala in the Audi Forum, 1,800 invited guests witnessed a spectacular program of celebrations staged outdoors. The highlights included the speech by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the unveiling of the new Audi A5 Sportback and the first performance of Chinese star pianist Lang Lang on the Audi Design grand piano.

Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG, greeted an array of famous personalities from the worlds of politics, industry, sport, culture and science at the jubilee celebrations. The guests included the Prime Ministers Horst Seehofer, Christian Wulff and Günther Oettinger, VDA President Matthias Wissmann, basketball star Dirk Nowitzki, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge from FC Bayern Munich and motor racing legends such as Jacky Ickx, Walter Röhrl, Hans-Joachim Stuck and eight-time Le Mans champion Tom Kristensen.

 “Just as a tree needs deep roots, a strong company needs an enduring tradition,” emphasized Audi’s CEO, as he initially mapped out the multi-faceted history of the carmaker in his address. Exactly 100 years ago to the day, automotive pioneer August Horch had founded August Horch Automobilwerke GmbH in Zwickau, which he renamed a short time later by translating his surname into Latin – and Audi Automobilwerke was born.

 Stadler explained how the Company established its market reputation over the decades that followed, through its pioneering spirit and visionary foresight, securing itself a position among the leading pack of premium manufacturers. Yet Audi’s people never let this success go to their heads. “We have kept our feet firmly on the ground and continue to nurture the culture of a mid-corporate business: a responsive, flexible, lean organization”, emphasized Stadler.

Looking to the future, Rupert Stadler also announced: “We will extend our technological lead.” The Company is already concentrating on identifying the key drive technology of the future. “In our opinion, hybrid technology will bridge the gap and then electric drive will become increasingly important,” explained Audi’s CEO. He quoted one example of the Company’s major commitment to this cause: the “Electronic Performance” project being funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Under its auspices, AUDI AG is planning to push forward with the development of an all-electric car together with renowned partners from the worlds of industry and research.

The new Audi A5 Sportback put in its first public appearance at the evening gala. The sporty five-door model is already the third member of the A5 model family, alongside the Coupé and the Cabriolet, and is notable for its successful blend of elegance, comfort and everyday suitability. The new Audi model will go on sale in Germany in September.

Rupert Stadler was joined by Angela Merkel in taking the wraps off the latest member of Audi’s model family. “No matter how greatly the car of the future may differ from today’s car, there will continue to be a desire for individual mobility all over the world,” said Chancellor Merkel in her personal podcast on the Internet. She underlined the fact that one of the most essential tasks in the future will be to promote climate protection, energy efficiency and safety. “Audi and its 100-year success story are therefore representative of other companies in the automotive industry,” Merkel emphasized.

As an international ambassador of the Audi brand, it fell to Chinese star pianist Lang Lang to stage the very first public performance on the new Audi Design grand piano. This musical instrument, with its characteristically curvaceous body, was designed by the Audi Design Studio in Munich and will be used as a concert piano for future prestigious musical events.

The evening’s other cultural highlights included the spectacular illumination of the Audi Forum by light artist Gerry Hofstetter and the first performance of a symphony composed specially for the ceremony by music producer Leslie Mandoki. The classical work was performed by the musicians of the New Frankfurt Philharmonic, conducted by Paul Momberger. The evening gala at the Audi Forum was hosted by television presenter Thomas Gottschalk.

Additional scheduled events for the Audi centenary;

The evening gala is the opening event for a week of centennial celebrations for Audi employees, as well as for the people of the regions around Ingolstadt and Zwickau, where Audi was born. Die Fantastischen Vier, one of Germany’s most popular hip-hop bands, will perform on stage in Ingolstadt on Friday, July 17 at the “Audi Rocks 100” party. The four musicians from Stuttgart will sing live and “unplugged” during their appearance at the Audi Forum – accompanied by a 60-member international symphony orchestra. Singer Oceana will warm up the crowd with her mixture of soul, reggae, funk and hip-hop, starting at 7 p.m.

The next day is completely devoted to motor sports: on Saturday, July 18,
from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Audi Tradition will send nearly every racecar used in the course of the brand’s history for demonstration runs on the historic Donauring. Cars set to travel the roughly 1.7-kilometer circuit through the center of Ingolstadt include the Auto Union Type A and Type D double-compressor racecars as well as the legendary Pikes Peak and racers from Le Mans and the German Touring Car Masters (DTM). At the wheel will be racing legends such as world rally champions Walter Röhrl and Hannu Mikkola, and Le Mans winners Allan McNish, Marco Werner and Lucas Luhr. It all starts at 9 a.m., when the gates to the paddocks will open at Ingolstadt’s Volksfestplatz.

On Sunday, July 19, Audi and the city of Ingolstadt invite the people of the region to a classical concert in Ingolstadt’s Klenzepark. The performance of the
Brno Philharmonic Orchestra and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra of Brno will
begin there at 7:30 p.m.; admission is free. The program includes Beethoven’s
Ninth Symphony and works by Johannes Brahms. The open-air concert will conclude with fireworks set to classical and modern music, starting at 10:30 p.m.

A special exhibit entitled “From Horch to Audi!” opens on Saturday, July 25, at the August Horch Museum Zwickau. Various cars from the company’s history will be presented there, at the site where the company’s founder created Audi 100 years ago. There will also be a birthday party for the whole family on the same day from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Platz der Völkerfreundschaft in Zwickau. Along with driving demonstrations featuring racecars like the Auto Union Silver Arrow and various Audi quattro rally cars, plans include an autograph session with Olympic ski jump champion Jens Weissflog. At the open-air concert that evening, the bands My Excellence, SK 5, Alcazar and the Spider Murphy Gang will take the stage.

The sporting highlight of the centennial festivities will take place on July 29-30 in Munich's Allianz Arena. At the invitation of AUDI AG, four top international soccer teams will compete for the Audi Cup. At the tournament’s opening on Wednesday, July 29, Manchester United will face Boca Juniors from Buenos Aires (kick-off at 6:30 p.m.), and Bayern Munich will play AC Milan (8:45 p.m.). The Audi Cup final begins on the following day at 8:45 p.m.; the game for third place starts at 6:30 p.m.    

 In Australia, the major celebrations will take place on 20 August 2009, as the company opens the largest new ‘Audi Terminal’ dealership in the world, on South Dowling Street in Sydney.

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