When people think about European luxury cars, their minds often go to Italian or British automakers—many people already know some fun facts about Rolls-Royces or Ferraris due to their popularity. However, one European country seems to blow its competition out of the water when it comes to creating quality luxury cars: Germany. If you’ve never heard any interesting facts about German automobiles, you’re in for a treat. From BMW to Mercedes Benz, from Audi to Porsche, there are many reliable, desirable cars out there with all sorts of interesting backstories.
BMW Created the First Electric Car
BMW created the first electric car in 1972. Though impractical and dependent upon 12 batteries to drive just 19 miles, it marked an important moment in history: knowing that cars could be driven without gasoline. Nowadays, we have cars that drivers can plug into the walls of their garages to charge. This wouldn’t have been possible without this very first electric model.
BMW Used To Produce Aircraft Engines
BMW wasn’t initially in the business of making cars. It originally created high-altitude performance engines that were highly fuel efficient for the time. This made BMWs especially desirable during World Wars I and II, and the company continued manufacturing aircraft engines until 1945, when the Treaty of Versailles forbade them from continuing. At that point, the company turned its attention to other vehicles.
Mercedes-Benz Was the First Automaker To Put Brakes on All Four Wheels
In 1924, Mercedes-Benz did something no other company had done before: it put brakes on all four wheels of a vehicle in a bid for the safest car on the road. The car came equipped with this braking technology thanks to the invention of shock absorbers, which made for a smoother ride.
The Porsche 911 Was Almost Called the 901
The Porsche 911 is perhaps the most iconic name from the brand. However, it almost wasn’t meant to be. Initially, the name was the 901, but French carmaker Peugeot claimed the name was too similar to their own branding. Peugeot cars are usually named with the same [number]-0-[number] scheme. Therefore, the 901 became the 911.
Audi Was Named by a Child
Another of the most interesting facts about German automobiles is that the Audi brand was named by a child! Owner August Horch was struggling to come up with a good name for his company, as he was not permitted to use his own name as a trade name. He discussed suggestions with good friends Paul and Franz Fikentscher. Franz’s boy wanted to offer a suggestion while playing within earshot of the conversation but was too shy to do so. Eventually, he confided in his father that the name “Audi”— Latin for “to hear”—was a good name because Horch’s name also meant “to hear” in German. It was a clever way for Horch to get around the ban on naming the vehicle after himself—while still doing just that.