NSU Motorenwerke AG, or NSU, was a German manufacturer of automobiles, motorcycles and pedal cycles, founded in 1873. Acquired by Volkswagen Group in 1969, VW merged NSU with Auto Union, creating Audi NSU Auto Union AG, ultimately Audi. The name NSU originated as an abbreviation of "Neckarsulm", the city where NSU was located.
In 1932, under pressure from their bank (Dresdner Bank), NSU recognised the failure of their attempt to break into volume automobile production, and their recently built car factory in Heilbronn was sold to Fiat, who used the plant to assemble Fiat models for the German market. From 1957, NSU-Fiat cars assumed the brand name Neckar.
NSU motorbike production restarted, in a completely destroyed plant, with prewar designs like the Quick, OSL, and Konsul motorbikes; furthermore, the HK101 continued to be sold by NSU as an all-terrain vehicle in a civilian version. The first postwar model was the NSU Fox in 1949, available in 2-stroke and 4-stroke versions. In 1953, the NSU Max followed, a 250 cc motorbike with a unique overhead camdrive driven by reciprocating rods. All these new models had an innovative monocoque frame of pressed steel and a central rear suspension unit. Albert Roder, the chief engineer behind the success story, made it possible that in 1955, NSU became the biggest motorcycle producer in the world. NSU also holds four world records for speed: 1951, 1953, 1954, and 1955. In August 1956, Wilhelm Herz at the Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah, became the first man to ride a motorcycle faster than 200 mph (322 km/h).
NSU is primarily remembered today as the first licensee and one of only four automobile companies to produce cars for sale with rotary Wankel engines. NSU invented the principle of the modern Wankel engine with an inner rotor. The NSU Ro 80 was the second mass-produced two-rotor Wankel-powered vehicle after the Mazda Cosmo. In 1967, NSU and Citroen set up a common company, Comotor, to build engines for Citroen and other car makers. Norton made motorcycles using Wankel engines. AvtoVaz (Lada) manufactured single and twin rotored Wankel powered cars in the early 1980s. Only Mazda has continued developing the Wankel engine and made several more cars with the Wankel engine. NSU developed their last car in a recognised conventional layout, (front engine front wheel drive, water cooled) -this was the NSU K70, Volkswagen adopted as their first water cooled front engined car the VW K70. The first VW golf cars used the NSU K70 engine and is almost identical. Subsequent VW models share no lineage and are descended from Auto-Union designs.
In Uruguay, the Prinz 4 was built by Nordex S.A., and a new model, the P6, combined the engine and mechanics of the NSU model with a separate body completely redesigned by Carlos Sotomayor. From 1970, the P10 was built as the successor model to the NSU P6. This had the larger engine of the NSU Prince 1000 and a 21 cm extended wheelbase.