Audi has once again raised the bar with regard to body manufacturing. In the scope of the 12th International Car-Body Benchmarking Conference, the Audi A8 surged ahead to win the Euro Car Body Award – the world’s most distinguished award for innovations in body manufacturing. Over 500 experts and a jury of specialists gave top scores to Audi’s top-of-the-range model.
Leading body-manufacturing experts convene once a year in Bad Nauheim, Germany. Here they discuss trends as well as scrutinize numerous body shells and series-production vehicles prior to the conference highlight: selecting the world’s most innovative series-built body. In late October, 520 specialists from 22 countries attended this year’s event, organized by the Automotive Circle International. Along with a jury of specialists, they evaluated 14 of the latest series-production vehicles. The result? The Audi A8 was not only victorious, but also set a new record by earning 41.11 out of a possible 50 points to secure first place with ease.
This luxury-class model manufactured in Neckarsulm dazzles thanks in large part to its stiffness/weight ratio: the relationship between torsional rigidity and the body’s weight. At a weight of just 231 kilograms (509.27 lbs), the aluminum body is about 40 percent lighter than a comparable version made of steel. In addition, it weighs nearly 30 kilograms (66.14 lbs) less than its predecessor; at the same time, its stiffness/weight ratio has increased by 20 percent. As a special feature, the body as per the Aluminum Space Frame method utilizes bionic principles. Like the bones of a human skeleton, all components combine optimal function with low weight. In fact, 13 different grades of aluminum are used – always in accordance with a simple rule: “The right material in the right place!”
In addition to impressive body properties, the Euro Car Body Award recognizes pioneering concepts regarding processes, production, and manufacturing as well as Audi’s know-how concerning materials technology and joining techniques. At its Precision Body-Manufacturing Shop in Neckarsulm, Audi uses various mechanical and thermal joining techniques: 1,847 punch rivets, 632 self-tapping screws, 202 spot welds, 25 MIG welds, six meters (19.69 ft) of laser welds, and 44 meters (144.36 ft) of bonded seams ensure that the body is a highly functional unit.
In addition, first-hand customer benefits play a key role in the evaluation process. The outstanding crash-test results achieved by the Audi A8 as well as the car’s excellent aerodynamic and acoustic properties are important. The repair concept and the collision and comprehensive insurance rating are also considered. The model’s first-place finish thus reflects its high quality and the comprehensive approach pursued with respect to the development of vehicle bodies.
The sought-after award was won by an earlier generation of the Audi A8 as long ago as 2003. Ingolstadt also took the trophy in 2006 and 2008 – first for the Audi TT and then for the Audi Q5. This fourth triumph makes Audi one of this field’s trailblazing manufacturers.
Yet another example of Audi’s body-manufacturing excellence: the first-generation A8 unveiled in 1994, which was the first luxury sedan to feature an aluminum body. And models such as the Audi R8 Spyder, boasting considerable quantities of CFRP, are ahead of the competition. Audi will continue enhancing these approaches and emphasizing lightweight design and composite construction. Last but not least, surprising topics and pioneering technologies are in store.