A total of 1,703 people work in the area of Technical Development at Audi’s Neckarsulm site in (as of January 31, 2017). The main focus is on the development of fuel-cell technology, the Lightweight Design Center and engine development.
Lightweight design: Audi has established lightweight construction as a key element of modern automotive engineering. With the Audi A8* in 1994, the company launched the first car in the world produced in a large series with a unitary aluminum body. Since then, Audi has continually expanded its expertise. At Audi’s Lightweight Design Center in Neckarsulm, approximately 200 people cooperate closely with research institutes and industrial partners. The expertise gained has so far resulted in a triple-digit number of lightweight-construction patents. A key building block is delivered by the Technical Center for Fiber-Reinforced Polymers.
Aluminum, high-strength and ultra-high-strength steel, magnesium and fiber-reinforced polymers – Audi has detailed and comprehensive knowledge of all body materials from its development work. The philosophy here is: “The right material at the right place in the right amount.” The engineers at the Neckarsulm Lightweight Design Center are pushing the competition between materials forwards, constantly in search of even better solutions. The car body of the future will use these high-end materials in various combinations, depending on the model.
The company has steadily expanded its expertise, also in the area of manufacturing; Numerous high-tech methods have been added. These innovative technologies are implemented at strategically important suppliers, which in turn supply Audi and other brands of the Volkswagen Group. In the field of lightweight construction, the engineers focus not only on the materials, but on the entire production chain – with innovative solutions for process technology, bonding technologies, quality assurance and service and repair possibilities.
Development of fuel-cell technology: The Audi A7 Sportback h-tron quattro epitomizes the progress Audi has made with this drive technology at the Neckarsulm site in recent years. The system consisting of fuel cells and battery delivers 170 kilowatts and accelerates the Audi A7 Sportback h-tron quattro from 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in 7.9 seconds. Its top speed is 200 km/h (124.3 mph) – unique in the segment of hydrogen-powered cars. With one tank full of hydrogen, the Audi A7 Sportback h-tron quattro travels more than 500 kilometers (310.7 miles). The main center of development for fuel-cell technology, one of the key technologies within the Volkswagen Group, is based at the Neckarsulm site. In the new structure, fuel-cell technology development is a separate organizational unit, as is engine development. This strengthens the Neckarsulm site as the competence center for h-tron technology.
Engine development: The development of various engines is an important cornerstone of the Neckarsulm site. In addition to V diesel and V gasoline engines, the engines for motorsport applications are also developed here.