Audi's beginnings date back to the late 1800s. Though it has always been known as a maker of luxury cars and, more recently, SUVs, the company has less recognition than some of its European counterparts, namely BMW and Mercedes. The company’s logo of four interlocked rings dates back to the 1930s and 1940s when it was part of Auto Union (a merger of the Audi, DKW, Horch and Wanderer brands). Volkswagen AG bought Auto Union, and therefore the Audi name, in 1964, and thus began a new era in Audi history. VW released its first Audi model in 1968, and began importing vehicles to the U.S. market in 1969.