Technical Development at AUDI AG occupies an area of about 352,000 square meters in Ingolstadt. Its tasks range from the development of the engines (assemblies and transmissions), the electrification of the drive train to design and on to total vehicle concepts, electrical/electronic systems, bodies and chassis. One of the top priorities is electric mobility, and in view of this Audi has grouped all the relevant activities together in the “e-performance” project house. The new Audi brand name for electric mobility is to be “Audi e-tron”.
Crash tests for vehicle safety are also conducted on the Technical Development site, which includes the wind tunnel and the EMC measuring hall in which vehicle electronics are tested for electromagnetic compatibility. As would be expected from a “networked company”, various Quality Assurance, Production, Model Line, Purchasing and Controlling departments are also involved in development processes and situated on the Technical Development site.
A high level of investment is undertaken to keep the facilities available in line with the increasing demands that the products must satisfy. Since 1995, Technical Development has been able to test new designs in a wide range of driving situations on Audi’s own proving ground in Neustadt. Measurements relating to performance, fuel consumption, noise levels, temperatures and braking are recorded on a 4.6-kilometer 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 pad, an ultra-modern corrosion protection center was opened there in 2002. In 2004 an additional test track for ride comfort assessments, the “poor country road” track, was opened. Two more inside tracks were added to the eastern curve of the oval track and a gantry car wash opened in 2008.
Construction work on the Physical Center began in 1996. This group of offices, laboratories and workshops permits close cooperation with the Acoustics, Performance/Efficiency, 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, other roller dynamometers and large test installations. There are also various test installations for components and assemblies, in some cases with provision for climatic changes and weather effects to be simulated.
The Electronics Center was built in 2003. It is a transparent terraced building with a glazed atrium linking the office and workshop zones. Cooperation is an important factor in this center: the project teams can communicate with one another and meet to work together without having to cover long distances. 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 acoustical laboratory for the development of audio concepts. There are also various testing facilities for networked electronic components.
Since the beginning of 1999 the Ingolstadt plant has had its own Wind Tunnel Center with three test rigs, the aeroacoustics wind tunnel, the thermal wind tunnel and, since the end of 2007, a new climatic wind tunnel. This is capable of generating wind velocities of up to 300 kilometers an hour. Among its uses are interior climate tests, the development of engine cooling systems and the reduction of wind noise. When vehicles have passed through all three wind tunnels, they are capable of satisfying any environmental conditions they may encounter in practice.
In the Design Check, the very latest technologies are employed to validate development decisions at an early stage. Audi was the first carmaker in Europe to make use of a new presentation technology with a cinema standard of digital image quality. In the virtual reality (VR) studios, forthcoming vehicle models can be examined realistically with the details shown accurately even before any actual vehicles have been built. The various materials, from gleaming paintwork to finely textured leather, look authentic and almost as if one could reach out and touch them. Realistic light, shadow and reflections are created to make the onlooker even more convinced that he or she is looking at a vehicle that could be boarded and driven away.
The Transmissions and Emissions Center (GEZ) 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 altitudes of up to 4,200 meters. Mechanical assemblies 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.
The Audi Pre-Series Center (VSC) groups the interests of Technical Development and Production together in a single area of responsibility. This guarantees the economically viable manufacture of automobiles even at an early development stage and validates product characteristics and manufacturing techniques. The five-floor building, which was inaugurated in 2008, houses offices, vehicle assembly and commissioning workshops, testing facilities, and a logistics area.