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The all-new Audi A8’s space frame will employ a unique mix of materials in order to save weight and provide better torsional rigidity, resulting in increased performance, greater efficiency and enhanced safety.
The new multi-material space frame will incorporate aluminum, steel, magnesium and carbon fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP). The large CFRP rear panel provides much of the additional chassis stiffness, with Audi claiming a 33 percent increase in the torsional rigidity from that component alone. The automaker has also developed a new fiber-layering process to create the CFRP panel that negates the need to produce entire fiber sheets, which saves time and cost.
Aluminum is the most widely used material in the A8’s construction, accounting for 58 percent of the vehicle’s body. The occupant cell, which is made up of the front bulkhead, side sills, B-pillars and front roofline section, is made of high-strength, heat-treated steel for safety reasons. Steel of varying thickness is used throughout the occupant cell, saving weight wherever necessary but still maximizing its structural integrity. Further contributing to the weight savings is a magnesium strut brace fastened with aluminum bolts, which helps 28 trim percent of mass over the outgoing A8.
Audi has developed a new process to join these four materials that includes roller hemming the front and rear door cutouts to join aluminum with steel and remote laser welding aluminum components. The automaker has also come up with a more laser welding process that allows it to accurately determine the gap width between parts being joined, helping it to save costs on process controls.
The 2018 Audi A8 will make its debut on July 11th, 2017 during a special event in Barcelona, Spain. The all-new sedan is expected to be one of the most technologically advanced vehicles ever and is said to be the first production series vehicle to offer an SAE-rated ‘Level 3’ autonomous driving mode. A plug-in hybrid variant will also be available and other Audi tech, such as Matrix LED headlamps and innovative in-car displays, is also expected.