Car manufacturing in the region at the confluence of the Neckar and Sulm rivers dates back more than a century. The company that prompted the emergence of this industry was NSU. Starting out as the knitting machinery manufacturer Neckarsulmer Strickmaschinenfabrik, it merged with Auto Union GmbH in 1969. Audi NSU AUTO UNION AG changed its name to AUDI AG in 1985 and transferred its registered office to Ingolstadt.
The production site
Neckarsulm at a glance
Many typical Audi innovations first saw the light of day at the company’s second German plant. The assembly lines in Neckarsulm currently produce the models Audi A4 Saloon, Audi A5/S5 Cabriolet, Audi A6 Saloon and Avant, Audi S6, Audi A6 allroad quattro, Audi A6 hybrid, Audi A7/S7, Audi A8, Audi A8 hybrid and Audi A8 L. quattro GmbH, which is also based there, builds the high-performance vehicles Audi R8, Audi R8 Spyder and Audi R8 LMX, as well as the Audi RS 5 Cabriolet, the Audi RS 6 Avant and the Audi RS 7. The Audi Forum Neckarsulm offers its visitors a fascinating automotive experience.
Technical Development: lightweight construction, interiors and efficient engines
The focus of Technical Development operations at Neckarsulm is on the areas of lightweight body construction, interiors, and petrol and diesel engines. The results achieved by the Lightweight Design Centre in Neckarsulm have already led to a tally of patents running into three figures, as well as numerous international awards. Alongside the key material aluminium, the inventors of the lightweight body construction concept investigate in particular the use of fibre composites. By steadfastly building on this commitment, the new engine test centre and the pilot plant facility for fibre-reinforced composites were inaugurated in 2012.
Other focal areas for development include petrol and diesel engines. The Audi 100 TDI began volume production for the first time in 1989. Even today, TDI continues to represent “Vorsprung durch Technik” – a milestone in the company’s history. Half of all Audi cars produced today are equipped with a TDI engine. In 2014, TDI development celebrated its 25th anniversary at the Neckarsulm site.
Sports engine development is also based at Neckarsulm. The site celebrated a special victory at the end of the 2013 racing season: for 20 years, the engines have held up in every race, with more than 2,300 starts.
Production – intelligent mix of materials
Neckarsulm is one of the sites with the biggest product diversity of all the Volkswagen and Audi plants. The manufacturing equipment includes a new press shop, an aluminum-steel body shop and two pure-aluminum body shops, a paint shop and several assembly lines. The Neckarsulm plant continued the product offensive in 2013 and successfully mastered all the product ramp-ups. The new models included the Audi RS 6 Avant, the Audi RS 7 and the upgraded version of the flagship Audi A8. In June 2013, J. D. Power gave the Audi plant in Neckarsulm its gold award for the best production quality in Europe and Africa. 273,168 cars have been produced at Neckarsulm in 2014 (including CKD).
Sustainability and environmental protection
Likewise at the Neckarsulm site, Audi enshrined environmental production in the Audi Production System (APS) as one of its fundamental principles. Despite an increasing variety of models and growing production volumes, Audi has been able to reduce the specific energy requirement by around 20 percent in the last five years alone. Since 1995, the Neckarsulm site has regularly been certified in accordance with the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) of the European Union, and it was once again certified in 2014. A key factor for certification is that evidence is provided of continual improvements in environmental protection. We therefore search for new solutions in many areas, for example to reduce energy consumption, CO2, dust and solvent emissions, and to increase waste recycling while minimizing total waste. Other examples of environmental protection in practice include environmentally aware motorsport using highly efficient diesel engines, energy recovery in the Engine Centre, and acoustically optimised test rigs.
More about environmental protection
quattro GmbH: greater individuality
In 2013 the company celebrated its 30th year of existence as well as a successful year of operation. With four new RS market launches, quattro GmbH currently has the biggest model range in its history. The portfolio includes eight RS models as well as the iconic Audi R8. In addition to development and construction of the RS and R8 models, the Audi subsidiary covers the fields of car customisation and accessories as well as customer racing. In autumn 2014, the Audi R8 started rolling off the lines inside the new production buildings in the Böllinger Höfe Industrial Park. The body manufacturing and assembly of the supercar will be combined under one roof in the new production hall. This will optimise the production processes and further develop low-volume production capabilities at the Neckarsulm site.
Other development highlights
Audi Forum Neckarsulm
The Audi Forum Neckarsulm is a driving force in the region and far beyond. Since opening in May 2005, more than 1.7 million people have visited to pick up their new cars, to enjoy a plant tour or to take part in some of the great variety of cultural events offered there. During 2014, the Audi Forum presented a total of 21 cultural events and 29 activities for children; in addition, almost 80,000 visitors and customers picking up their new cars were taken on tours of the plant. Six different tours are currently offered. Visitors can also take a culinary discovery tour while relaxing at the Nuvolari restaurant.