Audi Forum Neckarsulm

The Audi Neckarsulm site has been manufacturing cars for over 100 years. Driven by innovative ideas, passion, and the pursuit of perfection, the location has developed from its beginnings as a knitting machine workshop to a modern car manufacturing site. Last year, Neckarsulm celebrated a special anniversary under the motto “150 years as the engine of change: Audi Neckarsulm – a strong history, a strong future”.

AUDI AG is one of the largest employers in the Heilbronn-Franken economic region. 15,464 people work here for the Mobility of the Future. On an area of approximately one million square meters, the company produces cars in the Audi A4, Audi A5 Cabriolet, Audi A6, Audi A7, and Audi A8 series lines. At the Böllinger Höfe industrial park near Heilbronn six kilometers away, AUDI AG adds approximately 300,000 more square meters to its Neckarsulm footprint. This is where Audi Sport GmbH has its headquarters, and is also the birthplace of the fully electric Audi e-tron GT quattro. The last Audi R8 will roll off the line at the end of the first quarter of 2024, marking the end of production for a sports car icon at Böllinger Höfe.

With its expertise in small-series and volume production, the Neckarsulm plant is one of Europe’s most complex and boasts some of the greatest product variety of VW Group locations. In 2024, production of the next generation of the A4/A5 family marks the start of the greatest ramp-up in the plant’s history.

Audi Forum Neckarsulm is making a mark in the region and far beyond it. Since its opening in May 2005, more than three million people have visited this brand experience center. Over more than 10,000 square meters, customers, visitors, and fans can discover the magic of the Audi brand, the company, and the Neckarsulm site.

  • This is where new car owners come to pick up their Audi. Exhibits offer insight into the company’s history and its current product range and production. The Audi Exclusive Studio offers comprehensive services that go far beyond the design options of the standard series.
  • The conference center provides business customers a space for meetings and creative workshops.
  • The in-house restaurant Nuvolari offers high-end dining.
  • Guided tours of the plant start from here. Tour guides give guests a glimpse of automobile production, and acquaint them with the ins and outs of the site.
  • The building also doubles as a venue for a variety of cultural events, from book readings to concerts and technology workshops.

Technical Development

A total of 1,714 people work in Technical Development at Neckarsulm (as of December 31, 2023). The development of a complete high-voltage battery portfolio for fully electric vehicles will take place predominantly at this location. This means Technical Development will continue to grow and strengthen in the future.

  • New high-end building for Technical Development: The new Technical Development building will serve as a pilot space and think tank for new, efficient ways of working. Here, Technical Development experts will collaborate under one roof in modern office spaces, workshops, and test stands. In planning the more than 600 workspaces, the focus was on ease of information transfer and communication, as well as on optimal organization of the various divisions within Technical Development. As a result, the office floors offer different zones that provide the perfect environment for productivity, for creative workshops, and even for technical exchanges in a more relaxed atmosphere.
  • Competence Center for high-voltage batteries: High-voltage batteries for plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) are already being produced in Neckarsulm. Now Audi is expanding its high-voltage battery development. In the future, personnel in high-voltage battery development – in close collaboration with colleagues at the Ingolstadt site – will be located primarily in Neckarsulm. Over the coming years, a growing number of employees will join these efforts – including some who are switching from combustion engine facilities, receiving additional training to do so. Also, a battery testing center will be opened, where new high-voltage storage modules for various electric vehicles will undergo testing and analysis.
  • Primarily locating high-voltage battery competency in Neckarsulm additionally creates synergies with the light-construction center at that site.
  • The right material in the right place in the right amount: The engineers in Audi’s light-construction center develop not only for the Audi brand, but for the entire Group. This requires finding solutions to the requirements of models with alternative drive systems, such as the battery housing for electric models. The goal is to design a car body that is as light and stable as possible while remaining cost-efficient. The body of the future will therefore consist of an intelligent mix of materials. The development of parts now employs simulation models depicting a digital twin of the real cars. This allows us to bring new technologies to mass production using a minimum number of test vehicles.
  • Group Competence Center for Fuel Cell Technology: In the Fuel Cell Technology Center, Audi develops, manufactures, and checks fuel cells to continuously optimize properties relevant to their application, such as efficiency, service life, and profitability.

Production and logistics

The great diversity of models produced at the site makes Neckarsulm one of the most complex plants in the Volkswagen Group. The Audi Supply Chain communicates our customers’ needs to the plants, co-ordinates with approximately 1,000 suppliers, and finally delivers the cars to the customers. In this way, it ensures that vehicle production and market supply are punctual, flexible, and efficient. What it takes is speed, transparency, reliability, and digital factory transformation.

Audi employees at the Neckarsulm site work continuously to optimize processes and develop innovative IT solutions that advance digitalization in production andlogistics. Böllinger Höfe also plays a special role here: this small-series production facility is involved in innovative pilot projects. Intelligent solutions for the fully connected and smart factory are tested, refined, and ultimately adapted there for large-volume production in the Neckarsulm plant.

  • A comprehensive overhaul of the paint shop at the Neckarsulm site is expected to complete in 2025. The renovation entails two major projects: restructuring the top coat facility in building A17 and building a new base coat facility in building A22. This will optimize processes and make them more environmentally friendly in the future, including as it relates to electric models. From 2025, the paint shop in Neckarsulm will be one of the most modern facilities in the automotive industry. 
  • Pearl chain principle: An algorithm calculates the best sequence for the assembly line from nearly two trillion possibilities six days in advance, following the pearl chain principle. The algorithm uses information on ordered cars while taking into account the associated workload for the employees in all work areas so they can be utilized most effectively.
  • Using data to optimize processes: An interdisciplinary project team within Audi Supply Chain at the Neckarsulm site is exploring how to use data to further optimize the management of a plant. To do this, Audi Supply Chain uses the largest possible database, including data from suppliers and forwarding agents as well as congestion information. Data like this from the entire production value chain promotes the transparency of supply chains and the accuracy of predictions.
  • Smart logistics: Audi has been using automated guided vehicles (AGVs) for the automated transport of parts and vehicles in its production buildings since 2017. The goal is a fully automated supply chain.
  • On the road to the fully connected factory: In early 2021, Neckarsulm became the first automobile plant in the Volkswagen Group to use RFID technology (RFID = radio frequency identification) to identify vehicles throughout the entire production process. The site thus laid another cornerstone for fully connected production.
  • Step by step to the smart factory: The real lab in Böllinger Höfe and the digital ecosystem in Heilbronn provide Audi with ideal on-site conditions for advancing the transformation to a digital factory. Together with partners from science and IT, Audi is testing digital solutions for the production of premium vehicles in a real manufacturing environment in Neckarsulm.
  • The Automotive Initiative 2025: At the educational campus in Heilbronn, Audi is working to advance the digital factory transformation in close partnership with the Technical University of Munich and the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering and Organization (IAO). Neckarsulm Plant Manager Fred Schulze is positive about the work so far: “We are making great strides. We’ve launched several projects related to digitalization in the plant. What’s more, the AI25 is now involved in a wide range of existing projects. The important thing now is to keep developing the solutions we and our partners in the Heilbronn ecosystem have come up with.”
  • Edge Cloud 4 Production: With the local server solution Edge Cloud 4 Production, Audi is initiating a paradigm shift in automation technology. After successful testing in the Audi Production Lab (P-Lab), three local servers will take over worker support in the Böllinger Höfe. If the server infrastructure continues to operate reliably, Audi wants to roll out this automation technology – the only one of its kind in the world – for serial production throughout the Group.
  • Smart maintenance: The “Predictive Maintenance” project at the Neckarsulm site makes upkeep on production facilities more efficient and reduces downtime in production. Maintenance experts collect and interpret associated data and can predict and even partially prevent wear on production equipment.
  • One pilot project is using artificial intelligence (AI) to control the quality of spot welds in high-volume production. The long-term vision is that in the future, the quality of welding processes can be controlled automatically and continuously optimized. Up until now, production staff have used ultrasound to manually monitor the quality of resistance spot welding (abbreviated WPS in German) processes on the basis of random analyses. As part of the “WPS Analytics” pilot project, a team of experts is using AI to detect quality anomalies automatically and in real time.