AUDI WANTS to master all the technologies and processes involved in building its lightweight AL2 concept, which is due for production next year.
Audi engineers managed the development, not suppliers, and Audi intends to assemble the AL2 in Neckarsulm, Germany, where it builds the A8 aluminum luxury car.
'Suppliers will not build aluminum sub-assemblies for us,' said Heinrich Timm, Audi's vehicle concept project coordinator.
The AL2 was shown at last year's Frankfurt auto show as a concept car. Audi wants it to achieve fuel efficiency of 3 liters per 100km.
Audi is reluctant to give details of its AL2 plan, but officials talk of a production goal of 50,000 units annuall. Audi made 15,624 A8s last year.
Sources in the aluminum industry speak of even larger volumes.
'We are convinced that before 2000, 100,000 cars per year is a feasible volume,' said a source at Alusuisse. Alusuisse is one of Audi's aluminum suppliers for the AL2.
The compact Audi will follow the structural principles of the larger A8, said Timm. It will feature an aluminium space frame with cast aluminum joints and stress-bearing aluminum panels.
'It should be seen as the second stage of our successful aluminum space-frame technology,' he said. 'We have achieved drastic cost reductions by virtue of improved production and materials, including welding techniques. There will be less machining of structural aluminum components as well.'
The A8 was developed during the early 1990s from the ASF concept car. Alcoa, the American-European aluminum producer, contributed significantly to the ASF car as a development partner. Alusuisse did a lot of development work on improved joint technologies and hydroforming of extrusions for the aluminium space frame.
But Audi managed development of the AL2, Timm said.
'This car has been completely developed under Audi management, with Audi know-how and to our own responsibility,' said Timm. 'No aluminum supplier will have preference. They will all be selected for their price and qualities in an open market.'