The quattro GmbH production facility: Building the Audi R8
quattro GmbH builds the R8 models in its own dedicated facility at the Neckarsulm plant. More than 80 percent of the low-volume production work is carried out by hand, in bodyshell manufacturing and assembly.
The aluminum bodyshell of the R8 Coupe, conceived using the ASF (Audi Space Frame) principle, weighs just 210 kilograms and demonstrates the potential of Audi’s lightweight design. The structure incorporates a load-bearing engine frame in magnesium. On the R8 Coupe, 99 meters of MIG (Metal Inert Gas) welding seams, 782 punch rivets and 308 automatically set FDS fasteners (Flow Drill Screws) hold the bodyshell parts together. With the FDS fastening technology, the screws tap their own metric thread into the material under heat and pressure. The process was used for the first time in the Audi R8, and is now applied to other Audi models.
In the first process step, the front end, center floor-pan and rear end of the R8 are made separately from one another. Once they have been joined to form the underbody, the cast nodes and the pillars are then added; highly qualified specialists then apply the welding seams. A fully automatic measuring facility checks the dimensional accuracy of each bodyshell down to tenths of a millimeter – the scanner works without touching the test piece and uses 95 laser sensors to check 220 points in the space of five seconds. Spot testing is carried out by computer tomography,using x-rays to detect deviations down to one thousandth of a millimeter.
At a geometry station, the front hood and – on the coupe – the rear side panels are fastened to the bodyshell with the aid of a high-precision assembly fixture. In place of these, the Audi R8 Spyder features large components made from carbon-fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) – a lightweight material that is also used to make the cover panel for the roof stowage compartment. Together with the lid, the stowage compartment, the rear windshield module and the rollover protection, the soft top forms a unit that further increases the stiffness of the ASF bodyshell.
At 30 minutes, the production intervals in R8 assembly are considerably longer than for high-volume series production; Audi places a great deal of value here on experienced people. They have to build up to 50 parts in a pre-defined sequence and master up to twelve different tools. Each completed R8 then undergoes an intensive quality sign-off procedure on the factory’s test track and a one-hour test drive on the open road – a rule that also applies to the RS models.