Audi even built a brand new body shop just to build the game-changing A8.
There was simply no way Audi was going to cede to BMW and let the 7 Series win the technological war without a fight. While it’s easy enough (relatively) to bloat a range-topping luxury sedan full of features to make it a rolling computer stuffed with motors controlling any movable mechanical piece that requires physical effort, it’s much harder to engineer a game-changing chassis from the ground up. However, the current A8 platform is already seven years old Audi is looking to replace it.
To do so, the automaker is taking a cue from BMW's CLAR technology. Short for Cluster Architecture, the concept involves building the space frame chassis out of various materials, layering it so that more dense substances are placed where maximum rigidity is needed (such as on crash structures) and using lightweight materials where possible. The result is a chassis that’s both lighter and stiffer than one made of a single material and to implement the concept, Audi will use four separate materials to construct the bones of the upcoming A8. On the parts table is aluminum, steel, magnesium, and carbon fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP). Designers were careful to consider where each material should go and took everything into account.
This includes comfort and sound insulation as well as how dynamic the handling is thanks to the reduction in weight and added rigidity. Aluminum makes up the majority of the frame, 58% to be exact, and is supplemented by high-strength steel to make up the lower section of the front bulkhead, side sills, B-Pillars, and front section of the roof line in the occupant cell. Contributing to a 28% weight savings are magnesium strut braces while the CFRP adds 33% to the vehicle’s torsional rigidity. Made from a layering process that places between six and 19 fiber layers on top of one another, the CFRP member is designed to withstand longitudinal and transverse loads as well as shearing force for maximum durability.