On the assembly line of the new fully electric Audi e-tron GT, ultra-modern robots work alongside skilled production workers who benefit from advanced technologies such as virtual reality and use tools created by 3D printers.
Electric vehicles are pioneering not only because they enable sustainable mobility and zero emissions. They also employ advanced solutions in production, carrying the car forward directly into the future of industry. Just like the new Audi e-tron GT, which will be produced at Audi Böllinger Höfe at the Neckarsulm site – using next-generation technologies while employing skilled craftsmanship for the finishing touches.
The e-tron GT will be the first fully electric Audi to be built in Germany and will start rolling off the production line at the Neckarsulm site at the end of 2020 after the facility, historically designed for small-series production, has been extended, upgraded and converted to e-mobility.
Manual and digital
The facility combines skilled craftsmanship, digital processes, and smart technologies. Tests on the production line, the assembly line, and the logistic processes were conducted in the virtual domain, with container planning also performed with the help of VR technology. Production was designed without physical prototypes – a first at Audi.
Steel and aluminum
The body of the Audi e-tron GT is constructed from ultra-high-strength steel and aluminum. This material mix is produced by the skilled craftsmanship of employees supported by special machinery on an innovative assembly line along which each body passes twice, first on one side, and then on the other.
The body is constructed around what is called the two-way framer, in which ten robots attach the inner and outer side panels. It combines all the separate manufacturing steps involved in joining the sides of the vehicle into a single system. The body shop for the e-tron GT is 85-percent automated and comprises 10 stations and a total of 34 robots.
All bodies are measured using an innovative inline measuring procedure. It guarantees even greater accuracy and can respond very quickly to minute deviations. At the end of the Body assembly line the specialists come into play, fitting the add-on parts and checking the overall finish of the completed body.
The expressive design of the Audi e-tron GT places unusually high demands on production quality – the side wall frame, for instance, has a large draw depth of 35 centimetres (13.8 in) between its highest and lowest point.
The assembly line of the new Audi electric SUV includes 36 cycles instead of the previous 16, and is shared with the Audi R8 supercar. This integration of two technically completely different cars is unique in the Volkswagen Group.
Both models are moved using the same driverless transport vehicles and an electrically powered monorail system. At one station of the line, humans and robots work side by side. A 3D printer is also on hand to produce customised assembly aids at the employees’ request. Once completed, every car is test driven for 40 kilometres (24.9 mi) on public roads, including sections on the highway and in urban traffic.
The e-tron GT sound
The sound of the Audi e-tron GT was developed by engineers Rudolf Halbmeir and Stephan Gsell, who worked on the computer, in the sound laboratory, inside the moving car, and in customer studies. The result is a unique progressive electric sound composed of 32 individual sound elements.
As with every electric car, the e-tron GT also features the statutory acoustic vehicle alerting system (AVAS), which warns pedestrians and cyclists of the vehicle’s presence at speeds up to 20 km/h (12 mph). In the e-tron GT however, the AVAS is embedded within a much broader acoustic spectrum.
The audio experience
A loudspeaker fitted in the front of the vehicle emits the AVAS sound, while an optional second, and larger, loudspeaker can be added in the rear. In parallel, two loudspeakers positioned at the front provide the interior sound experience.
Two control units that continuously remix the sound based on variables such as speed or accelerator position complete the system. Meanwhile, the Audi drive select system allows drivers to set how intensively they wish to experience the sound.
Source: AUDI AG