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  • Next-Generation Audi Q7 Will Be Featurw New Lightweight Materials

Next-Generation Audi Q7 Will Be Featurw New Lightweight Materials

Scott Evans
Mar 11, 2011
Declaring that "every gram matters," Audi executives announced to journalists at a recent tech demonstration that the next A4, Q5 and Q7 will feature more lightweight materials and will therefore be significantly lighter than the vehicles they replace.
Photo 2/5   |   Next Gen Audi Aluminum Space Frame
Most of the discussion centered around Audi's MLB-EVO vehicle architecture that underpins most of their cars and around the next generation of the Audi Space Frame. We've seen the initial advances in the new A6 and A8, which are more aluminum-intensive than their predecessors and consequently lighter. With most of its lineup recently renewed, Audi's focus now shifts to the next A4, which company executives declared will be "significantly lighter" than the current car.
The key to the next A4, along with all future cars to be built on the Audi Space Frame, is aluminum. The company already uses 18 different aluminum alloys in the A8, some of which it formulated itself, and that strategy will continue in earnest. Audi isn't throwing all their eggs in that basket, though. The new space frame will be a multi-material affair with various types of steel, aluminum and magnesium placed strategically throughout the car. To determine where, Audi is using computer modeling programs to decide exactly which material, be it ultra high-strength steel or cast magnesium or something else, is appropriate and how thick it needs to be in any particular segment of the frame for strength, crash worthiness and weight savings.
Photo 3/5   |   Audi A6 Forged Magnesium Strut Cap Design
To drive the point home, Audi revealed a partially-covered prototype of the new space frame, which appeared to be the frame of the next A4. Unfortunately, Audi wouldn't allow us to take photos, so the pictures you see here are "approved" press shots. Most of the structure was aluminum, whether in the form of cast parts, stamped parts or sheets. High- and ultra high-strength steels were used sparingly and only for reinforcement in key areas, such as the B-pillars. One-piece cast magnesium "strut caps," also found on the new A8 and A6, could be seen at all four corners (previous models used steel caps made from 10 individual pieces welded together). The body, meanwhile, will also be aluminum intensive. Audi engineers on hand suggested that the new design had saved 100 kilograms, or 220 pounds, on the body alone.
Photo 4/5   |   Audi A6 Forged Magnesium Strut Caps
It's all part of a program Audi is calling "Ultra," much the same way the name "E-Tron" encompasses all of the company's electric vehicle developments. It's not just limited to the A4, though. Audi also announced that the next-generation Q7 will be "up to 400 kilograms lighter" than the current model, or as much as 880 pounds lighter. The Q5 is on the list, too, with engineers demonstrating several aluminum and steel hybrid B-pillars that could replace the steel pillars on the current Q5 for additional weight savings. The prototype pieces ranged from 7.8 to 8.9 kilograms (17.2-19.6 pounds) compared to the current piece, which is 11.2 kilograms (24.7 pounds). Why so much effort for a few pounds? As Audi's quick to point out, "every gram counts" when you multiply it across the number of components found in a modern car.
Photo 5/5   |   Next Gen Audi Q5 B Pillar Prototypes

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