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Next Generation Aluminum Space Frame is a Revolution in Auto Design

By February 11, 2011 May 20th, 2016 No Comments

Audi A8’s Aluminum Frame 40 Percent Lighter than Comparable Steel Body Shell

Arlington, VA – The 2011 Audi A8 demonstrates how lightweight engineering with aluminum can achieve tremendous benefits without compromising vehicle size, performance or safety. Introduced  by Audi15 years ago, ASF® (the aluminum-based Audi Space Frame technology) now helps the new Audi A8 flagship sedan achieve better fuel economy with a gasoline engine than competing luxury sedans achieve with hybrid engines. ASF does this by offering  advantages over a traditional steel construction, including improved handling, fuel efficiency and an increased power-to-weight ratio.

Composed of 13 different aluminum alloys, ASF helps reduce body weight and increase body strength and stiffness. This stiffness improvement enables the car to be more responsive, precise and stable in its handling. Another benefit of the extensive use of aluminum is its ability to absorb vibration, creating a smoother and quieter ride. Compared to the previous Audi A8, Audi has increased the body stiffness in the 2011 Audi A8 by 25 percent, while reducing weight by up to 20 percent. In fact, at 509.2 lbs the 2011 A8 ASF has a 40 percent weight advantage over a comparable steel body shell.

“This next generation aluminum frame provides tremendous savings in the weight of the car, allowing for greater fuel economy, while improving on the superior performance our customers expect,” said Lutz-Eike Elend, Head of the Audi Lightweight Design Center. “Audi sets the industry pace in lightweight engineering, and with the new A8 the brand demonstrates once more its leading role in this field.”

Aluminum is perfectly positioned to offer lighter weight and better fuel economy with no compromises in size or safety. Aluminum’s inherent advantages in automotive applications have created four decades of uninterrupted growth for the light metal. With the increased interest in fuel efficiency today, aluminum use could more than double in cars over the next decade.

“The answer to consumer and government demands for cleaner, more efficient, affordable cars and trucks is a holistic approach to include lighter yet stronger materials like aluminum, matched with smart design, advanced powertrains and cleaner fuels,” said Randall Scheps, Chairman of the Aluminum Association’s Transportation Group and Alcoa’s Director of Ground Transportation. “When it comes to materials selection for the next generation of cars and trucks, aluminum delivers like no other and must be an integral part of the overall solution.”

Research has shown that consumers can get a 5 to 7 percent vehicle fuel economy improvement for every 10 percent of weight reduction by substituting aluminum for conventional steel. In terms of emissions, using aluminum in vehicles can save a net 20 pounds of CO2 over the typical life cycle of a vehicle for each pound of aluminum that replaces two pounds of iron or steel – and more than 90 percent of automotive aluminum is recovered and recycled.

“As the Audi A8 demonstrates, aluminum can play a significant role in achieving higher fuel economy without compromising performance or safety,” Scheps continued.

For more information and research on the safety and environmental advantages of engineering with auto aluminum, visit www.aluminumintransportation.org.

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About the Aluminum Association
Through its Aluminum Transportation Group (ATG), the Aluminum Association communicates the benefits of aluminum in ground transportation applications to help accelerate its penetration through research programs and related outreach activities. The ATG’s mission is to serve member companies and act as a central resource for the automotive and commercial vehicle industries on aluminum issues. Members of the ATG include: Alcoa Inc., Novelis Inc., Rio Tinto Alcan, Aluminum Precision Products Inc., Hydro, Kaiser Aluminum Corporation and Sapa Group.