Many typical Audi innovations first saw the light of day at the company’s second German plant. The Audi A5/S5 Cabriolet, Audi A6 Saloon and Avant, Audi S6, Audi A6 allroad, Audi A6 hybrid, Audi A7/S7 Sportback, Audi A8/S8, A8 hybrid and A8L are currently built in Neckarsulm. quattro GmbH, which is also based there, builds the high-performance vehicles Audi RS 6, Audi R8 and Audi R8 Spyder, Audi R8 GT and R8 GT Spyder 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.
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 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. Sports engine development is also based at Neckarsulm. It celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2009.
The manufacturing facilities at the Neckarsulm site comprise a new press shop, one aluminium-and-steel and two pure aluminium body shops, a paint shop and multiple assembly lines. In 2012, vehicle production at Neckarsulm totalled 262,965 vehicles. A new, state-of-the-art electric-powered overhead track, which replaces the old conveyor system, has been used to build the Audi A6 and A7 since the end of 2012. The new system to transport the bodies offers assembly personnel improved workplace ergonomics while optimising the production process. An intelligent mix of materials is used to manufacture the Audi A8: new joining techniques are used in the body shop to allow various aluminium alloys to be combined with high-strength steels. The result: lighter vehicle bodies, a 25 percent increase in body rigidity and a 20 percent gain in the strength-to-weight ratio. The assembly line at Neckarsulm not only handles highly complex electronics with proficiency, but also achieves very high standards of interior visual appeal.
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 plant has been revalidated annually under the EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS). The Neckarsulm plant received the Volkswagen Energy Savings Award in 2012 for its various energy-saving measures. 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.
Besides the Audi R8 and Audi RS models, quattro GmbH also offers Audi exclusive and Audi design accessories. In addition, quattro GmbH has been responsible for all of AUDI AG’s customer racing business since January 1, 2011. This includes the development, construction and sale of the cars plus comprehensive customer service and support. Customer teams throughout the world are now driving the Audi R8 LMS, and with great success.
quattro GmbH was established in 1983 as a fully owned subsidiary of AUDI AG. The models built by quattro GmbH at Neckarsulm include the Audi R8 and Audi R8 Spyder precision sports cars.
The Audi Forum Neckarsulm is a driving force in the region and far beyond. Since opening in May 2005, it has attracted over 1,400,000 visitors, whether to collect a new car, take part in a fascinating plant tour or to attend one of the many events it has hosted. In 2012 it held more than 740 events and around 4,500 factory tours. In response to the rising number of visitors, at the start of 2011 the Audi Forum increased the capacity of its Car Delivery Centre. The annual Heidelberg Historic Rally is one of the highlights of its regional sponsorship activities.