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. Today, the Audi A4 Saloon, Audi A6, Audi A7 and the top-of-the-range Audi A8 model are built at Neckarsulm. quattro GmbH, which is also based there, builds the high-performance vehicles Audi RS 6, Audi R8 and Audi R8 Spyder. 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 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 Audi Space Frame (ASF) lightweight body construction concept investigate in particular the use of fibre composites. Sports engine development is also based at Neckarsulm. It celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2009.
Production – intelligent mix of materials
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. The plant achieved an all-time record in 2010. Production rose by 20.5% to 335,083 vehicles. The Audi A8 production operations feature both a new logistics concept and an intelligent mix of materials: 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 % increase in body rigidity and a 20 % gain in the strength-to-weight ratio. Bespoke character: the assembly line at Neckarsulm not only handles highly complex electronics with proficiency, but also achieves very high standards of interior visual appeal.
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 % in the last five years alone. Since 1995, the plant has been revalidated annually under the EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS). 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
Audi R8, Audi RS models, Audi exclusive and Audi design lifestyle articles – quattro GmbH helps to promote the emotional component of the Audi brand through its four distinct business areas. 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 future of mobility: another key area of activity for quattro GmbH is the manufacturing of Audi e-tron models in small production runs. A small production series of the first purely electric Audi will hit the streets in late 2012.
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, it has attracted over 1,000,000 visitors, whether to collect a new car or to attend one of the many events it has hosted. In 2010 it held 670 events and around 4,000 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.