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The Speed of Light

How Audi Uses Lightweight Technology to Win Many a driver has grown weary seeing the back of the TT at the Dover Raceway. This phenomenal machine with the four rings arrived in Jamaica in 2011 to thrill, build new rivalry and change the face of local motor racing forever; sponsored by ATL Racing and driven by Doug “Hollywood” Gore. It lived up to its sponsor’s “Unbeatable” tagline repeatedly. The TT gets its agile performance from Audi ultra® lightweight technology featuring ASF® aluminium construction. It’s a significant weight saving advantage that helps release the car’s true athletic spirit by creating quicker acceleration and shorter braking distances. Audi has broken the unwritten law that says that cars become heavier with each new model line. It appeared to be a basic principle in the automotive industry: every new model was heavier than its predecessor. This was because each additional comfort or safety improvement resulted in an increase in vehicle weight. More weight makes it necessary to increase engine output in order to ensure the same driving characteristics. This in turn creates the need for a stronger gearbox and brakes as well as a larger fuel tank – thus increasing the car’s weight even more. Audi’s response to this development was to take the first radical step in the other direction. Thanks to an Audi ultralightweight body that is significantly lighter in weight than the conventional structure, it was possible to completely reverse the weight gain. Just as each additional gram of weight is multiplied due to the measures that then have to be taken, each gram less has the opposite effect: smaller engines and tanks, brakes and gearboxes. The result is lighter vehicles with the identical driving characteristics and a crucial advantage – lower fuel consumption. Lightweight construction is often mentioned in the same breath as aluminium. However, the use of light alloys is only one way of saving weight. Audi is already using innovative combinations of materials in many areas. The Audi Space Frame is one of the most important innovations in the field of lightweight construction: the aluminium body created by Audi is recognised today as one

of the milestones on the way to developing significantly lighter vehicles. However, in addition to the aluminium design, Audi also develops multi-material concepts, some of which are lighter or stronger. As well as aluminium, Audi focuses on carbon fibre-reinforced polymers, state-of-theart steel alloys and magnesium. The main requirement placed on lightweight construction engineers is specialist know-how in the field of joining techniques. Thin aluminium panels can easily become damaged during welding. Some materials cannot be welded together at all – they have to be riveted, joined with adhesive or with self-cutting threaded screws. Audi has deliberately been breaking new ground in this area for many years and has built up specialised technical knowledge that can be used in production. Thanks to this know-how, it is possible to combine together virtually all the materials relevant to the vehicle construction industry. This is a distinct advantage, as this is the only way that it is possible to use just the right material in every part of the car – with no compromises. For a long time, the use of plastics in premium vehicles was frowned upon. But what used to be referred to with disdain is now a high-quality, high-tech material that opens up completely new possibilities for lightweight automotive construction. Carbon fibre-reinforced polymers (CFRPs) are extremely interesting; they can be processed in a variety of ways and can be moulded into virtually any form. In addition to the variety of processing options, the weight is also a key advantage: CFRPs are approximately 60 percent lighter than steel. Fibreglass reinforced plastics (FGRPs) are of particular interest for lightweight construction when used in combination with other materials. FGRPs are also extremely strong even when used alone, for example in the form of seat pans with undercarriage made solely from FGRP – they are 31.5 kilograms lighter than the standard production seats.

Innovative materials are already used in every new Audi. Lightweight in Motorsport Audi has set standards with its ultra-lightweight design in the area of the sports prototypes. In 15 years of development, the motorsport engineers have achieved best marks. Since 1999, ultra-lightweight design has been playing a central role with Audi’s Le Mans prototypes (LMP). Materials, such as CFRP (carbon fibre reinforced plastic), harbour major potential for optimizing weight. Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich says “Audi’s LMP sports cars have continually become lighter, stiffer, safer in crashes and more efficient. There is hardly another motorsport discipline in which the creativity of the engineers is rewarded as highly as it is with the Le Mans prototypes. Whether in terms of engineering design details or materials: many of the ultra-lightweight ideas from motorsport have the potential of positively influencing the development of Audi’s production models. Reducing the weight of the cars is the key to our successful future – in motorsport and in production.” Even in its first LMP sports car – the 1999 R8R – Audi used a carbon fibre monocoque. Audi has significantly been reducing weight to this day. For more than 30 years Audi has been successfully active in motorsport. And the success story continued in the 2013 season, as further chapters were added. In the Le Mans 24 Hours the brand achieved its twelfth victory with the Audi R18 e-tron quattro. In the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), the Audi Sport Team successfully defended both World Championship titles in the manufacturers’ and team classifications. In the DTM, Audi Sport Team Phoenix triumphed with the Audi RS 5 DTM.


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0-100kmh in 6.3seconds! “The Audi TT offers a superb blend of looks, quality and driving appeal. The icing on the cake is that our favourite model doesn’t cost a lot to buy or run.” – What Car? Magazine

Now available for only $7.2m


ATL AUTOMOTIVE DRIVE 18