Audi R8 and Audi E-Tron GT: Strange Assembly Line Mates

You’d think a big, sensible, corporation that answers to shareholders would be tempted to build platform mates like the Audi R8 and Lamborghini Huracán or the Audi E-Tron GT and Porsche Taycan along the same line. But no. To avoid any whiff of badge engineering or risk cross-contamination of brand images—and in the case of the Audi/Lambo cousins, for reasons of jingoistic pride—the R8 shares an assembly line with the fully electric E-Tron GT.

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Assembly Line Layout

Accommodating such wildly disparate vehicles on the same 36-station assembly line required some pretty clever process engineering.

Hand Welding vs. Robotic Welding

Bodies are constructed in separate areas on site, with the R8 welded by hand and the E-Tron by robotic welders. They’re then sent 4 miles away to be painted at Neckarsulm, before returning to be banked in the Böllinger Höfe facility’s basement.

Guided Vehicles

The vehicles then come up in sequence and are mounted on autonomously guided vehicle platforms for the first several stations.

Going Overhead

Next, they’re automatically transferred to overhead conveyor cradles that rotate to provide access to the undercarriage.

Commonalities Do Exist

At most of the stations, similar operations are conducted on both models. Wiring harness installation, glass, etc. But obviously, marrying a mid-mounted combustion engine and mechanical rear- or all-wheel drive is not terribly similar to installing a battery pack, motors, inverter, and wiring.

The R8 Engine Marriage

The R8 receives its engine five stations ahead of where the Audi gets its electric powertrain. When an E-Tron arrives at the R8 engine station, its rear doors are installed (an operation obviously not required for the R8).

E-Tron Comes Together

Audi E-Tron GT chassis, battery, and motor components get built up on a separate line that feeds in at the upper right corner of the earlier diagram of the assembly line layout. Here, R8s have their suspension pieces installed at all four corners.

The Why

Next year, Böllinger Höfe is forecast to build 2,000 R8s and 12,000 E-Trons. When pressed as to why—if Bentley Continentals could be built in Germany alongside Volkswagen Phaetons, Audi E-Trons and Porsche Taycans surely could be assembled at the same German plant—Audi pointed out that the bodies are sufficiently different as to require separate body shops anyway.

Cachet Drop?

And if E-Tron buyers had to choose an assembly line mate, the R8 probably trumps a Taycan. But only just.

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