New car models are being introduced constantly. Automotive manufacturers are trying to attract more customers by offering new technologies, better driving characteristics and overall better cars. But how can we make sure they will stand to the test of time, when they are being developed so quickly? German automaker Audi has a special way of testing, which replicates 12 years of car’s lifetime in just 19 weeks.
Many parts of the car are replaceable and will wear out no matter how tough they are going to be. Paint and anti-corrosion protection, on the other hand, is much harder to replace once it is starting to go. Audi Quality Assurance has just conducted its 100th INKA test on an Audi A4 to make sure this model of the car is up to Audi’s standards in the areas of corrosion protection and durability. Of course, there is no viable way to test the car for 12 or more years before selling it to customers, which means that Audi has to use clever technologies to replicate the wear and tear of 12 years in just 19 weeks.
Audi Quality Assurance has completed a total of 322,500 testing hours and covered more than one million kilometres during these INKA tests. They included 2,800 mud tests and 1,900 salt tests. It is quite extensive procedure, but Audi believes that it is important in order to preserve the image of extremely durable brand. Sylvia Droll, Head of Materials Engineering, said: “Audi stands for superior build quality, high-quality material appearance and high reliability – even many years after a car is first registered. The INKA test is an essential tool for assessing the quality of our models and for further optimizing our production methods.”
These tests are organized in five phases. In the first one car is misted with salt and is taken to a climatic chamber, where temperature reaches 35 degrees Celsius. In the second phase the temperature is raised to 50 degrees Celsius and air humidity reaches 100%. In the third stage special lamps heat the body of the car to 90 degrees Celsius. In order to pass this testing, all materials have to maintain their qualities and colours. In the fourth phase temperature is dropped to minus 35 degrees Celsius and car is rocked and twisted by special machines. Finally, in the fifth stage a test driver drives the car through various tests, including saltwater and mud.
Audi says that each car going through this test travels for 12,000 kilometres and then is taken apart into 600 individual parts for inspection. This meticulous testing is unprecedented in other car brands and should assure that Audi cars will be durable and will stand to the test of time.