Audi Q7

High performance re-defined
Audi AG landed a great shot with the "Performance SUV", the Q7. It elegantly combines sportiness with versatility and highly developed technology with the comfort of a luxury saloon. The project even surpassed the own expectations of the development partner, Bertrandt Ingolstadt.

From facelift to a complete development
While Bertrandt was still involved in the final phase of the A4 facelift, Audi was on the lookout for a development partner for its new project, the Audi Q7. The plan was to develop the new premium vehicle together with an engineering service provider in Ingolstadt. Bertrandt was keen to be on board. For Bertrandt’s Ingolstadt site, the Q7 would represent a further challenge in the development depth of a vehicle.

First project partnership between competitors

In order to continue the development of the Audi A4 on a high level, a tender for the Q7 was made together with the local competitor IVM Automotive. With each being a long-term partner of Audi AG, Bertrandt and IVM Automotive ideally complemented each other. A special challenge was the awarding of a development project including simulation, testing and vehicle safety to a single engineering service provider for the first time - in this case to the project partners Bertrandt/IVM Automotive. This unusual constellation of two competitors working together was a particular feature of the project.

Structured project organisation
The prerequisites for functioning project management are a structured exchange of information as well as decision-making on working procedures on management level. This was created jointly with clear specifications and commitments at the beginning of the project and throughout its entire duration.

The first task was to define the project organisation of Bertrandt and IVM Automotive in order to present the two companies as a unit. The rules for cooperation both internally as well as with the customer were set out in a project handbook. This also described further project objectives, the organisational conditions, the interdisciplinary functions as well as the set forms and auxiliary support used.

This clear definition of responsibilities, contact persons and decision levels as well as the description of interdisciplinary functions helped all those involved to quickly feel at home in the project. The binding specifications set out in documents and plans ensured that a uniform picture was presented both internally and to the customer. The handbook was continuously updated and adapted to the state of progress of the project.

An important function of the kick-off session was to coordinate the expectations and the specifications and to fix regular consultation meetings. Furthermore, the organisational structure in the project on the customer’s side was harmonised with the providers’ own structure in order to ensure that clear communication was achieved as required.

Technical highlights

Concept vehicle
A special feature of the project was the development of a high-quality concept vehicle at an early stage in the development. In addition to virtual verification, this allowed Audi AG to experience all of the driving characteristics, functions, ergonomics and component geometries in a real form during test-drives.

Pedestrian safety
The systematic expansion of the process chain at Bertrandt allowed the functional development of the pedestrian safety features and therefore the entire frontend of the vehicle to be completely developed using own resources. Close 4 cooperation between the Computation, Design and Testing divisions allowed work to be carried out quickly and efficiently under optimum conditions.

A unique feature of the Q7 is the aluminium rear-hatch that wraps around the D-pillar, thus providing a particularly large opening to the luggage compartment. This design made especially high demands on the developers in terms of precise fitting, weight and stiffness, as it also integrates the entire rear light unit for the first time.

On completion of the prototype release, Bertrandt supported the development of the interior components up to series production, together with nominated system suppliers. This work was carried out in close cooperation with the partners, with Bertrandt Ingolstadt providing the platform for Simultaneous Engineering in the project house. Cooperation with the engineers responsible at AUDI AG and with the system suppliers resulted in an interior that is superior to any other in its class. A development engineer, responsible for Interior Development at AUDI AG, describes it in the following way: "The equipment versions exhibit Audi’s customary quality and attention to detail. In spite of having the robust character of an SUV, the Q7 does not have centimetre gaps but millimetre gaps and a meticulous finish."

Air conditioning
With regard to the vehicle’s air conditioning system, Audi’s project specifications were implemented in close cooperation with the system developers and Volkswagen AG as the platform developer. Bertrandt also provided support for the sub-assembly cooling system and ensured that the platform could be used unchanged in the Q7.

Digital mock-up
In order to carry out the DMU process, the vehicle was divided into individual zones and modules, each of which was attended to by a module supervisor. Their main responsibility was the analysis of the latest geometry data. Using the DMU navigator, the modules were examined with regard to collisions and the necessary clearances and the results were regularly presented in DMU meetings. The introduction of Virtual Product Management (VPM) allowed the development process to be further optimised. A structured DMU was performed for the first time. Thus, the partners came closer to the aim of replacing physical prototypes by digital ones. The new quality of the prototypes was also clearly recognisable. Many of the problems that had previously been recognised only when the vehicle was assembled had now been solved in the DMU, or they did not occur at all.

Project completion
The project review for the Q7 with the management of AUDI AG took place at the beginning of 2006. For the bodyin- white, interior, air conditioning and cooling, vehicle safety, simulation DMU, testing and project management project areas, the partners presented an analysis of the execution of the project. The result was extremely positive for the companies involved. The decisive feature of this undertaking was that two development service providers acting in unison could successfully complete a project of this size. That encourages us to try other unconventional solutions in the interests of our customers.

We would like to thank all those responsible at AUDI AG as well as our project partners for the excellent cooperation in this project.