20 years of Audi Space Frame – it all started at the Frankfurt Motor Show

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  • Body concept has revolutionized lightweight automotive construction
  • Over 750,000 cars built using ASF construction principle
  • New Audi A8 the benchmark in its class for low weight

Frankfurt Motor Show

Audi comes full circle at the Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA): Exactly 20 years ago the premium manufacturer presented the “ASF”(Audi Space Frame) in Frankfurt – on a gleaming silver show car whose innovative aluminum body concept revolutionized lightweight automotive construction. When the Frankfurt Motor Show opens next week, attention will again be focused on a car based on the ASF construction principle: the new Audi A8.

Nature was the key source of inspiration for the engineers 20 years ago. For example, in a beehive only as much material is used to make the honeycomb as is necessary to achieve optimum results. Audi’s lightweight construction experts drew on that principle in devising the ASF, a framework comprising extruded sections and pressure die-castings. The panels – the skin of the roof, the floor and the side panels – are integrated into this frame by means of a frictional connection so as to be semi-supporting. The individual components exhibit various shapes and cross-sections depending on their task.

Just one year on from the 1993 Frankfurt Motor Show, the Company went to market with the first world’s volume-production car with unitary aluminum body, the Audi A8. Panels accounted for most of its 336 individual components, followed by the sections and cast nodes. Assembly was performed roughly 75 percent by hand.

The ASF principle has become well-established over the past two decades: Other Audi models followed in the shape of the Audi A2 (2000), the Audi TT (2006), the Audi R8 (2008) as well as two further generations of the Audi A8 (2002 and 2010). In total, the Company has built more than 750,000 cars using the ASF construction principle since 1994 – either entirely from aluminum or using aluminum hybrid designs.

Next Tuesday, the new Audi A8 makes its show debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Thanks to its ASF architecture and an intelligent blend of aluminum and high-strength steel, its body weighs just 231 kilograms. The same body made entirely from steel would be around 40 percent heavier. The unladen weight of the standard-wheelbase Audi A8 3.0 TFSI quattro, for example, is 1,830 kilograms. That makes it the lightest model with all-wheel drive in this segment.

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