Probably one of Audi's worst kept secrets is the plans surrounding their new A8 model, expected to be announced this year for a 2017-18 release. Now, we have new information on how this generation will be built.
Although no images of the final model have been released, Audi have shown off the internal structure of the Audi A8 chassis and revealed information of a new multi-material technique that will increase safety and strength while also lowering weight significantly. They call this new body the Space Frame.
Audi is writing a new chapter in its lightweight design success story. For the next generation of the Audi A8, an intelligent mix of four materials is being used for the first time in the weight-bearing body structure. That’s more materials than in any of the brand’s previous production models. The aim of this new technique is to provide greater performance, efficiency and safety.
The new body uses a mix of aluminium, steel, magnesium and carbon fiber-reinforced polymer to establish a unique shell that follows Audi’s motto of “the right material in the right place and in the right amount”.
Audi believes that, as well as weight savings, the new material technologies and designs benefit the customer by improving the torsional rigidity by around 25% – this means that handling and acoustics will also increase comfort for the driver and passengers.
“The luxury saloon lives up to its reputation as an innovation driver in lightweight design”
New, thinner A-pillars means that the driver gets a better view of the road, and stronger B-pillars enabled the carmaker to widen the door cut outs so that entering and exiting the car is more comfortable.
In preparation for the new flagship Audi A8, the company specially built production halls for the Audi Space Frame. The 41-metre-high body shop will house the technology required for the highly complex production operation of the new body. The new process uses an innovative remote laser welding technology in order to reduce production costs by around 95%.
At the company’s latest AGM, Rupert Stadler – chairman of the Audi board – said that the new Audi A8 will be the first Audi vehicle to feature fully autonomous driving technology. The software built in to the car would allow drivers to engage hands-free highly autonomous driving with the ability to overtake slow moving traffic on motorways. The technology would be reflective of similar systems being developed by other carmakers.
Although the new developments of the A8 body mean a lighter construction, the entire car is expected to be around 50kg heavier due to a new full-length panoramic sunroof and the additional weight added by the technology required for fully autonomous driving.
There’s no word yet on what the design of the new car will look like, but it will allegedly be a striking new design with sharp edges that are appearing across the majority of the Audi range.