The Audi subsidiary quattro GmbH is investing about €28m in equipment and structural measures at Neckarsulm in order to launch the R8 sports car, which was presented as the Le Mans quattro concept study at the Frankfurt Motor Show three years ago.
R8 to be based on Le Mans concept car
The R8 will go on sale in Europe in the middle of 2007 and South African sales will kick off soon after that.
The short lead time between the decision being made in April 2005 to produce the car at the Neckarsulm plant and the official start of production at the end of 2006 poses a particular challenge to the employees of quattro GmbH and the Planning Department at Neckarsulm.
"We are establishing an innovative small-series production facility especially geared to the requirements of the Audi R8," says Albrecht Reimold, Head of Planning at Neckarsulm. Work was completed on converting a suitable hall situated at the centre of the plant at the end of March.
The plant equipment and new conveyor technology will be installed by the end of July. A range of new logistics concepts are also being planned. The start of the "pre-series" will see the body construction, assembly and logistics areas for the Audi R8 moving into the new production hall.
The car will be finished together with the RS models of quattro GmbH.
"The R8 will be manufactured entirely by hand. This means that the employees must be highly-qualified and have a lot of experience," explains Werner Frowein, Managing Director of quattro GmbH.
The R8 will share most of its components with the Lamborghini Gallardo. Audi will not only use the Gallardo's all-wheel-drive system for the R8 but also the Italian's aluminium space frame.
However, the R8 won't be a complete clone of the Gallardo and is not to get the latter's potent V10 unit. Instead Audi will develop a V8 for the R8 and it won't quite match the Gallardo on speed or price.