All models from the A4 upwards set to use aluminium

Audi is poised to switch to lightweight aluminium construction for future models from the A4 upwards.

By the middle of the next decade only the A3 and forthcoming A1 families will be based on conventional steel monocoque chassis.

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An Audi source told Autocar that the company ‘will shift quite quickly to hybrid aluminium construction’ for the next-generation A6 and A4 models, after rolling it out on the next A8.

The third-generation A8 flagship will be shown later this year and will pioneer the new ‘hybrid aluminium’ construction techniques that will allow Audi to use the lightweight metal for high volume production.

Autocar understands that the new A8 structure uses new construction and manufacturing methods that also be utilised for models lower down the range.

The essence of the structure is large aluminium castings for key areas including the front and rear chassis legs, the front suspension mounts, the base of the A-pillar and the front section of the transmission tunnel

At 1.4m long, the new A8’s rear chassis leg is said to be the largest diecasting in the world. The A8’s door structures are now also cast in one piece

These castings (which are also a crucial element of the safety structure) can apparently be used to underpin all Audi models based around longitudinal engines.

The rest of Audi’s new body structure (including the sills, roof structure and floor sections) is made of inexpensive aluminium extrusions that can be easily cut and bent to size.

However, Audi engineers have introduced additional materials to the new A8’s ‘hybrid aluminium’ platform. The car’s B-pillars are now made from ‘monolithic plate’ steel, which is heated up until it becomes floppy and is then stamped into shape.

This allows Audi engineers to design a B-pillar that has varying wall thickness without going to the expense of using ‘tailored blank’ sheet steel.

Audi is also expected to use lightweight carbon reinforced plastics for the new A8’s bonnet and boot lid. The material – which allows complex shapes to be made in a single moulding - is already used for the Lamborghini Gallardo deck lid and will be used for the upper rear wing of the Audi R8 convertible. Lastly, thin-walled magnesium castings will be used for the A8’s engine cradle.

All of these technologies are expected to be found in the next-generation A6, A4 and upcoming A7 models.

Audi sources say that the constant downward pressure on fuel consumption coming from legislators makes weight saving essential, as does the introduction of hybrid transmissions and heavy battery packs.

Audi pioneered aluminium space frame construction in mainstream cars when it launched the first-generation Audi A8 in 1994, although the ASF programme dated back to 1982.

Hilton Holloway

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11 September 2009

Make them rear wheel drive too plz ;-)

11 September 2009

Wow Audi's catching the Jaguar XJ up. If only they had caught them up in the styling department. This just looks like a large Passat.

11 September 2009

Mmm - my next car.

11 September 2009

another step forward in their use of aluminium mastering techniques.

the A8 is a serious contender, specially for those that aim a car that will last, let's say, more than just few minutes has it is the trend nowadays...

I just did not understood the comment from TStag, in what the Xj takes the lead?

As Autocar mentioned, the ASF technique has more than 15 years... and the Audi corrosion proof is legendary, their 10 years proof has more than 25years!

11 September 2009

With the very high margins Audi appear to have, it should be easy to cover the extra cost of using Aluminium for the A4 and A6. The lower weight can only help them drive better.

Given the rise of their fortunes over the last few year, whilst BMW are still considered to be the 'drivers' choice, just image how well they could do if they were regarded as drivers cars as well. particularly as their stylists are doing an OK job at the moment, whilst BMWs appear to be trying to put off their customers.

It would probably be worthwhile for Audi to become Aluminium only, including future smaller cars. at least with the A3 you might feel you were getting something more than a stylish golf for a big premium. It would then be Audis USP.

11 September 2009

'Stamping floppy steel'. Sounds similar to forging, and superplastic forming.

11 September 2009

Late as always; BMW 1996 5 Series was the first mass production car to have an all-aluminium suspension and the 2003 5 Series was also the first car to have an steel-alu hybrid chassis. And Audi's A2 and first-gen A8 were commercial flops.

11 September 2009

Didn't know Audi had ever made a car body using just Aluminium. Thought Jag was the only ones to achieve that given the specialised construction involved?

So will this be large fwd VW? Or will it be a proper luxury car? Maybe I'm just a cynic....


11 September 2009

There are many advantages in the use of alluminium, so why are the VW Group not extending the Audi approach to Bentley?


11 September 2009

My Skoda Roomster Scout has a plastic boot lid, guess that saves weight and it gives a nicer thunk when you close it than a metal one too :)


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