250,000 Audi Cars with an Aluminium Body

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May 21, 2003

The 250,000th Audi with an aluminium body left the production line today at the Neckarsulm plant: an Audi A8 4.0 TDI quattro. Audi has been using aluminium in volume production for about ten years now. Audi realised the Audi Space Frame ASF concept, which was specially developed for an aluminium body, back in 1993 on the A8 and evolved it for the Audi A2 and the new
Audi A8. More than 117,000 Audi A8 and just under 133,000 Audi A2 models have been built since then.

Audi set new standards as a pioneer of aluminium construction: A2 and A8 models with their all-aluminium body have picked up around 40 awards from well-known institutes and media. Plant manager Otto Lindner sees “light vehicles built using aluminium and intelligent composite construction methods” as the future of car manufacturing.

Lightweight construction plays a central role at Audi: the company has been conducting intensive research and development work in the area of aluminium for around 20 years. Audi has consequently built up outstanding expertise in the use of this light metal. “We are about five years ahead of the competition,” says Heinrich Timm, Head of the Aluminium and Lightweight Construction Centre in Neckarsulm. “The systematic application of lightweight construction helps to achieve a noticeable reduction in fuel consumption and to further improve comfort, performance and safety at the same time,” says Timm. The material’s outstanding suitability for recycling and the positive energy balance that results also speak in favour of the aluminium concept.

Audi presented a study of an aluminium body based on the Audi 100 at the Hanover Fair in 1985. The use of aluminium however means more than merely a substitute for steel. With the presentation of the Audi Space Frame in 1993, a high-strength aluminium frame structure was realised into which the large aluminium panels were integrated, thus assuming a supporting function. Aluminium extruded sections were connected by means of die-cast multifunctional components. The new design also called for innovative technologies. Improved light alloys and process techniques were thus developed.

Milestones in aluminium body manufacturing

  • 1983 – Start of the project “Aluminium Intensive Car”, start of development for aluminium lightweight body construction
  • 1985 – Presentation of the Audi 100 study with an aluminium body based on the shell principle at the Hanover Fair
  • 1993 – Presentation of the ASF study at the IAA Frankfurt Motor Show
  • 1994 – World premiere of the Audi A8 with an aluminium body at the Geneva Motor Show
  • 1997 – Presentation of the study Al2 at the IAA Frankfurt Motor Show
  • 1999 – World premiere of the Audi A2, the first volume-production car with an aluminium body, at the IAA Frankfurt Motor Show
  • 2001 – Market launch of the A2 1.2 TDI, the first five-door three-litre car
  • 2002 – Production landmark: the 100,000th Audi A8
  • 2003 – World premiere of the new Audi A8 with refined ASF concept at the Paris Motor Show
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