What does Vorsprung durch Technik mean?

(Audi uses domestic versions of this slogan. This post discusses my observations in the past.)

When you see an Audi advertisement, visit their website or pass by an Audi dealer, you see one thing that, unless you know German, you never understand – “Vorsprung Durch Technik”. Even if you don’t know German, you may guess that it is related to technology. But you have no idea what it really means.

As my German is really limited, I never understood this slogan and never understood why Audi insisted on using it for its global marketing strategy. Six billion human beings on this planet know that Audi is made in Germany, that’s clear, and there is no point in emphasising this all the time!

Audi is trying to find a place between Mercedes and BMW, but both of these brands have understandable slogans, unlike Audi. One of my interpretation is that Audi is willing to be associated with coolness, and they use a German slogan to emphasise this. Honestly, this doesn’t sound wrong! Audi is driven by people who are trying to be cool. By preferring an Audi, they demonstrate that they are avoiding driving a Mercedes or a BMW and eschewing the notions associated with these brands.

I don’t want to talk too much about this. Instead, I offer the English translation of “Vorsprung Durch Technik” – “Advancement through Technology”.

I know it does not sound incredibly cool when you translate it into English. It only says that the Audi brand is based on technology. So, I wonder how Audi can have the ugly understeer characteristic on its vehicles. All Audi cars, especially the Quattro (four-wheel) models, tend to understeer at corners due to the front axle’s weight. This shouldn’t happen based on their slogan, and Quattro models should always corner without any understeering! Let’s be fair; Audi has introduced many new technologies. Nobody can deny this, but most of those technologies are also available in Volkswagen sub-brands! I cannot ignore the fact that, in its product range, Audi has some of the best looking cars. This should be emphasised more!

Last note, this slogan caused me to think of the sentence ‘Think Locally, Act Globally!’ The slogan is German, which is the local aspect, and it could be used in a global marketing strategy.