The Technical Development division at AUDI AG in Ingolstadt occupies some 335,000 square meters. In addition to motorsport, its tasks include the full spectrum of the product-creation process: from design, the development of engines and transmissions and the electrification of the powertrains to vehicle concepts, electric/electronics, and the development of car bodies and suspension. Measures for the reduction of CO2 emissions have top priority across all departments in the development of new cars. Other requirements placed on product development are also rising continually. True to the brand motto of “Vorsprung durch Technik,” Audi’s engineers and technicians are implementing a broad-based innovation offensive with substantial investment.
Since summer 2012, Technical Development in Ingolstadt has had a new visiting card: the SE Forum. SE stands for simultaneous engineering – the integrated and concurrent development of products and processes. This approach will further reduce the development cycles of new models. 450 of approximately 7,000 Technical Development employees work in the SE Forum with the task of shaping the automotive future. To ensure optimal connectivity, the departments for quality assurance, production, model series, procurement and controlling are located in the SE Forum. With a new data center in two basement levels, the heart of the company’s IT also beats in this new complex. The new data center operates “green IT,” reducing energy consumption and CO2 emissions by at least one third. The second part of the complex, the northern wing of the SE Forum with approximately 1,000 workplaces, will go into operation in summer 2014.
Since 1995, Technical Development has been testing new developments in various driving situations at its own test grounds in Neustadt an der Donau. Tests of driving performance, fuel consumption, noise levels, temperature and braking are carried out there on a 4-7-kilometer oval track with three lanes and two banked curves. In addition to surfaces in various conditions, a steep gradient, two handling courses and a dynamic surface, there has also been an ultramodern anticorrosion center there since 2002. Another test track was added in 2004 with the name “poor country road” for assessing ride comfort. The oval eastern curve was widened with two additional inside lanes and a car wash went into operation in 2008. In September 2010, Test Center 2 with 1,200 square meters of workshop floor space, two meeting rooms and 24 office workplaces was completed. The construction of the multifunctional space with a size of 12,700 square meters was completed in June 2011. The main activity here is the further development and testing of driver assistance systems and systems for integral safety. In 2012, the multifunctional space was expanded with a three-lane, 200-meter starting track, a functional building was constructed at the oval test track (workshop, meeting room and toilets), and a freshwater ford with a depth of up to 70 cm was installed for functional tests. The new logistics center in the outdoor area of the test oval went into operation in March 2013 with 80 prototype parking spaces, 110 other parking spaces and a spare-parts store.
In the area of Technical Development in Ingolstadt, construction of the Physics Center started in 1996. It consists of offices, laboratories, and workshops, and allows close cooperation between the departments for acoustics, mechanical engineering, material strength and corrosion. The building has a modular design and is continually being extended. Various measuring and testing devices for components and vehicles are installed here, such as an exterior noise test rig to make sure that legal limits are complied with, a road simulator for testing structural strength, a level-track test rig for measuring performance and fuel consumption, a material-strength and energy-flow simulator, as well as roller dynamometers and other major test installations. Various types of test equipment for components and modules are also available, some of which can be subjected to different climates and weather conditions. An extension is due to be completed in 2015; it will be equipped with experimental large-scale simulators and test installations for compliance with statutory CO2 limits. Key factors for meeting CO2 limits are the investments in the two energy-flow simulators “single-wheel brake” and “level track.”
The Electronics Center was added in 2003. This is a transparent, terraced building with a glazed atrium, linking two building complexes with each other (offices and workshops). The focus is on interaction in this building as well. The project teams are close together to facilitate communication and collaboration. The Electronics Center accommodates six measuring and testing rigs for vehicles, for example a climate rolling road for simulating different weather and road-surface conditions, a lighting tunnel, an MMI (multi-media interface) laboratory and an acoustics lab for developing sound concepts. Various types of test equipment for networked electronics components are also available. In 2010, two system test facilities for high-voltage batteries were set up. Each unit has an electrical power rating of 150 kW and can test batteries with voltage of up to 500 volts and current of up to 500 amps. In order to minimize energy consumption, the energy discharged by the batteries can be fed into the electricity network.
Since early 1999, the plant in Ingolstadt has had its own Wind Tunnel Center with three test units: The aeroacoustic wind tunnel, the thermal wind tunnel and, since late 2007, a new climatic wind tunnel. With wind speeds of up to 300 kilometer per hour, car aerodynamics are refined, interior air-conditioning and thermal management are developed and wind noise is reduced. When the Audi models have passed through the three wind tunnels, they can be used under all ambient conditions.
Audi design is progressive and creative. The designers work in Ingolstadt and Munich, and, upon request, collaborate with other design studios within the Group. In the outdoor area of Technical Development in Ingolstadt and in the related model and workshop buildings, designers, project managers and model technicians work together on the latest series models and show cars and thus on the future of the company. Ultimately, design is the main factor influencing customers to buy an Audi. The focus is always on close cooperation with the engineers from the other Technical Development departments. Approximately 200 designers work in Ingolstadt altogether. This is a melting pot in which 17 nationalities with an average age of about 36 work together creatively. In addition to the offices at Technical Development in Ingolstadt, the concept design studio in Munich plays a major role in the development of innovative design and product concepts. There too, an international creative team works on the continuous further development of Audi design for maximum customer appeal.
In the design-check process, decisions made in the development process are verified with the use of state-of-the-art technology. Audi was the first European automobile manufacturer to apply a new presentation technology – in digital cinema quality. In the virtual reality studios, future vehicle models can be viewed before they are produced – realistically and in full detail. The various materials seem to be tangible and “true to life” – from the brilliant paintwork to the fine leather structure. The realistic lighting effects with shadows and reflections give the viewers the impression that they could get into the car and drive away.
The first building of the Main Component Center was completed in 2007. On the roller-type dynamometers, measurements of emissions and fuel consumption are carried out under climatic conditions. Driving performance with all-wheel drive is tested at altitudes up to 4,200 meters in a simulation chamber. In the adjacent workshops and modern transmission test stands, major components are set up and tested before they go into use. Attractive office workplaces encourage the development engineers’ creativity and team spirit.
In 2010, the expansion of the Main Component Center was completed, including a new Development and Test Center for Electric Drive Systems, following an investment of approximately € 65 million. In the area of Technical Development, a new building was constructed with total floor space of 14,000 square meters accommodating ultramodern test stands for testing electric drive concepts. The concentration of test stands for e-mobility in this development and testing center ensures optimal networking of the development engineers involved in this work. In a continuous process on seven floors, the Audi engineers carry out tests of all the individual components, simulate the interaction between drivetrain, battery and power electronics, and test the use of the entire powertrain.
In Audi’s Pre-Series Center, which was inaugurated in 2008, the tasks of Technical Development and production are brought together in a single area of responsibility. This means that already in the early development phase – as well as securing the desired product features and manufacturing techniques – the economic production of the cars is also ensured.
* The fuel consumption and emissions values of all models mentioned in the text and of all models available on the German market are listed in the last chapter of this basic information.