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10th April 2017, UK

Audi A8 to feature carbon fibre rear wall

Amanda Jacob reports

Audi has announced that the new A8 will feature a carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) rear bulkhead and parcel shelf. Scheduled for introduction later this year, the body shell of the car will incorporate a mix of four different materials – steel, aluminium, magnesium and CFRP – for the first time.

The Audi Space Frame (ASF) for the next generation A8 features a mix of aluminium, steel, magnesium and CFRP. © Audi AG

A high-strength combination of hot-formed steel components make up the occupant cell, which comprises the lower section of the front bulkhead, the side sills, the B-pillars and the front section of the roof line. Aluminium components account for 58% of the new A8 body, the largest share in the mix of materials, and there is a magnesium strut brace.

The high-strength, torsionally rigid CFRP wall is the largest component in the occupant cell of the new A8, and it contributes 33% to the torsional rigidity of the vehicle. Audi reports that to optimally absorb longitudinal and transverse loads as well as shearing force, 6-19 carbon fibre layers consisting of 50 mm wide tapes placed at the required fibre angle. The preform is impregnated with epoxy resin and cured "within minutes." 

The CFRP rear panel of the A8. © Audi AG

The CFRP panel is installed in the car during final assembly, already fitted with all components and assemblies. A manual handling device to pull the panel through the rear window cutout and into the car. A two-component structural adhesive formulated to prevent contact corrosion is used in conjunction with manually installed rivets to join the part to the metal components.

The carbon fibre panel is joined to the metal structure using adhesive and rivets. © Audi AG

The A8 space frame is being built in a new building at Audi's Neckarsulm plant near Stuttgart. Each of the three production levels of the new building encompass 50,000 m2 of floor space, the equivalent of 7 soccer fields. It employs around 500 people working in three shifts.

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