Audi is preparing to introduce new lightweight polymer springs that are designed to improve suspension adjustment and efficiency.
Set to debut in an executive class model before the end of the year, the fibre glass-reinforced polymer (GFRP) springs are apparently 40 per cent lighter than their traditional steel counterparts.
Developed alongside an Italian supplier, the core of each spring features a number of glass fibres that are twisted together and infused with epoxy resin. Further strands are wrapped around the centre, resulting in a slightly larger diameter and a lower number of coils.
Overall this sees the 2.7kg weight of a conventional steel spring cut to 1.6kg for a GFRP spring, resulting in a combined weight reduction of 4.4kg. According to Audi, half of this affects the unsprung mass, allowing the suspension to react quicker and so absorb imperfections more effectively.
“The GFRP springs save weight at a crucial location in the chassis system,” explained the German manufacturer’s R&D chief Dr Ulrich Hackenberg. “We are therefore making driving more precise and enhancing vibrational comfort.”
Additional claimed benefits include the absence of corrosion, even if springs become chipped, and resistance to chemicals such as those found in wheel cleaners. This suspension set-up also requires less energy to produce than one using steel springs.
When these new fibre glass-reinforced polymer springs arrive this autumn, expect to see it in at least one of Audi’s ‘ultra’ models – an efficiency-focused specification that currently extends to the A4, A5 and A6 line-ups in the UK.
As we exclusively revealed last month, this latest innovation will also be followed in the not-too-distant-future by a power-generating suspension system from Audi.