Technical Development at AUDI AG occupies some 335,000 square meters (3,605,910 sq ft) in Ingolstadt. In addition to motorsports, its tasks include the full range of product-development processes: from design through the development of engines and transmissions as well as the electrification of the drive train all the way to the development of vehicle concepts, electrical/electronic systems, bodies and chassis. Throughout all departments, the reduction of CO2 emissions is the highest priority in the development of new cars. Indeed, all expectations for product development rise continuously. True to the brand’s Vorsprung durch Technik slogan, Audi engineers and technicians translate considerable capital investments into a wide-ranging initiative of innovations.
In summer 2012 Technical Development staff relocated within Ingolstadt to the SE Forum. SE stands for simultaneous engineering. In short, products and processes are designed in an integrated and simultaneous manner. This approach is set to shorten the development cycles of new models further. Of the 7,000 people who work at Technical Development, 450 of them design the vehicles of tomorrow at the SE Forum. In the interest of optimal networking, the SE Forum is also home to the Quality Assurance, Production, Model Lines, Purchasing and Controlling departments. With a new data center occupying two basement levels, the new building is also the heart of the company’s IT systems. “Green IT” and innovative technologies have reduced energy consumption and CO2 emissions at Audi IT by a good third.
Since 1995, Technical Development has been testing new designs in a wide range of driving situations on Audi’s own test ground in Neustadt an der Donau. Measurements relating to performance, fuel consumption, noise levels, temperatures and braking are recorded on a 4.6-kilometer (2.86-mile) three-lane oval track with two banked curves. In addition to various sections of track with different surfaces, a steep-gradient hill, two handling tracks and a dynamic driving area, an ultra-modern corrosion protection center was opened there in 2002. Another track section called “poor country road” was added in 2004 to assess vehicle comfort. Two more inside tracks were added to the eastern curve of the oval track and a gantry car wash opened in 2008. In September 2010, Test Center 2 with 1,200 square meters (12,917 sq ft) of workshop space, two conference rooms and 24 office workplaces was ready for use. Construction of the 12,700 square meter (136,702 sq ft) multifunction area was completed in June 2011. This area is used primarily to refine and test the driver assistance systems and the systems for integrated safety. In 2012, the multifunction area was expanded to include a three-lane approach route 200 meters in length (656.17 ft), a service building (workshop, conference room and restrooms) at the oval’s service station and a freshwater wading section with a water depth up to 70 cm (27.56 in) for function testing. A new logistics center along the edge of the track opened on March 1, 2013. It features 80 parking spaces exclusively for prototypes, 110 other parking spaces and a transshipment point for parts.
Construction work on the Physics Center on Technical Development premises in Ingolstadt began in 1996. This group of offices, laboratories and workshops permits close cooperation with the Acoustics, Mechanical Engineering, Strength and Corrosion departments. The building has a modular layout, with new sections being regularly added. It contains numerous measuring and testing facilities for components and complete vehicles, for example an external noise test rig for compliance with legal noise emission requirements, a road simulator for strength testing, a level-track rig for performance and fuel consumption measurements, a strength and energy flow simulator, other roller dynamometers and large test installations. There are also various test installations for components and assemblies, in some cases with provision for the simulation of climatic changes and weather effects.
The Electronics Center was built in 2003. It is an airy, terraced building with a glazed atrium linking office and workshop complexes . The building is focused on interaction. The project teams are close together to facilitate communication and collaboration. The Electronics Center houses six measuring and testing facilities for vehicles, for example a climatic test chamber for weather and road simulations, a lighting tunnel, an MMI (Multi Media Interface) laboratory and an acoustics laboratory for the development of audio concepts. There are also various testing facilities for networked electronic components. Two dedicated system test rigs for high-voltage batteries were set up in 2010. With an electrical output of 150 kW each, the systems can test batteries with maximum voltages up to 500 V and maximum currents of 500 A. To keep the energy consumption as low as possible, the discharged energy from the battery can be fed back into the grid.
Since early 1999, the Ingolstadt plant has had its own Wind Tunnel Center – consisting of three test facilities: the aero-acoustic wind tunnel, the thermal wind tunnel and, since the end of 2007, a new climatic wind tunnel, which is capable of generating wind velocities of up to 300 kilometers an hour (186.41 mph). Among its uses are aerodynamic optimization, the development of interior climate control and thermal management and the reduction of wind noise. When vehicles have passed through all three wind tunnels, they can be used in any environmental conditions they may encounter in practice.
Audi Design is progressive and creative. The designers work in Ingolstadt and Munich and collaborate with other Group design studios upon request. At the Technical Development facilities in Ingolstadt as well as adjacent modeling and workshop halls, designers, project managers and modeling technicians collaborate on the latest production models and show cars, and thus on the future of the company. After all, design is the number-one reason people buy an Audi. There is a constant focus on close interaction with their engineering colleagues from Technical Development. All in all, some 200 Audi designers work in Ingolstadt. This “melting pot” is home to creative minds from 17 countries, who are 36 years old on average. In addition to the offices at Technical Development in Ingolstadt, the studio “Concept Design Munich” also plays a major role in the development of innovative approaches to design and products. An international team of creative people at work in Munich guarantees the constant refinement of Audi design for maximum customer satisfaction.
The design check process ensures that decisions made at Development are verified early on by cutting-edge technology. Audi was the first automotive manufacturer in Europe to use a new presentation technology that delivers the quality of a digital movie theater. In the virtual reality (VR) studios, forthcoming models can be examined realistically with the details shown accurately even before any actual vehicles have been built. The various materials – from the luster of the paintwork to the fine leather details – look real and true to life. Realistic light, shadows and reflections are created to make the onlooker even more convinced that he or she is looking at a vehicle that he could drive away on the spot.
The Transmissions and Emissions Center (GEZ), the first construction phase of the Powertrain Center, was completed in 2007. Its roller test rigs are used to measure exhaust emissions and fuel consumption in various climatic conditions. There is, for instance, a simulation chamber to test operation of all-wheel-drive models at elevations as high as 4,200 meters (13,779.53 ft). Powertrain units of the future are built and tested in the adjacent workshops and on the modern transmission test rigs. The attractive office working environment promotes creativity and cooperation among the development engineers.
Since 2010, Audi has operated a new Development and Test Center for Electrified Drive Systems. The car manufacturer has invested around €65 million in expanding the Powertrain Center in the last two years. A new building with a floor area of 14,000 square meters (150,694.75 sq ft) was constructed on the Technical Development site. This center is home to ultramodern facilities for testing electrified drive concepts. The concentration of the test rigs for electric mobility in the new Development and Test Center optimizes interaction between the development engineers. On a total of seven floors, Audi engineers first test individual components, simulate the interaction of the drive system, battery and power electronics, and then test the operation of the entire powertrain in a continuous process.
The Audi Pre-Series Center (VSC) opened in 2008 and groups the pursuits of Technical Development and Production in a single area of responsibility. This guarantees the economically viable manufacturing of automobiles even in the early developmental stage, in addition to ensuring product characteristics and manufacturing techniques.