Business and science cooperating to manufacture the car of tomorrow

ARENA2036: The versatile factory of the future

ARENA2036 is a public-private partnership that brings together high-profile representatives from science and business in a 10,000 m2 high tech center situated on the campus of the University of Stuttgart. Here, the automobile factory and the car of the future are being developed.


In ARENA2036 , competencies in lightweight design and manufacturing already present in southern Germany are bundled and implemented strategically in a joint research and development program. At its core, ARENA2036 is a flexible factory located on the campus of the University of Stuttgart. This factory of the future in the heart of the Baden-Wuerttemberg economic region allows onsite testing of practical uses for research findings from the manufacturing and development fields. The research campus thus links theory and practice and fosters close interdisciplinary cooperation

Collaborative project work will contribute to optimally transferring research findings into industrial innovations.

Prof. Wolfram Ressel, Rector, University of Stuttgart

The partnership focuses on issues relating to functionally-integrated lightweight construction and innovative manufacturing technology. This team effort is flanked by a startup accelerator called STARTUP AUTOBAHN that is a resource accessible to all partners. ARENA2036 is considered a lighthouse project designed to shore up Germany’s prominence in car manufacturing over the long term horizon.

The ARENA2036 research building.

The goals of ARENA2036

The acronym ARENA2036 stands for Active Research Environment for the Next Generation of Automobiles. “2036” refers to the fact that the automobile will be celebrating its 150th birthday that year. Goals set for the research campus are to be realized by then and the way opened for the automobile manufacturing of the future: flexible manufacturing of functionally-integrated lightweight vehicle structures.

New ways of human-robot team work in place of the rigid assembly line.
New ways of human-robot team work in place of the rigid assembly line.

ARENA2036 research contents

The research carried out by ARENA2036 focuses on the areas of lightweight vehicle structures and innovative manufacturing technologies. In the lightweight construction projects, component parts of fiber reinforced plastics (FRP) are being designed. Metallic materials distinguished by their low weight are also used. Sound and heat insulation, as well as thermic, sensor, and electric cabling can be embedded in the materials for weight and cost savings. 

Added to this, flexible manufacturing takes the place of the rigid assembly line with its conveyor belts and fixed work positions. Versatile work stations combining human workers and robots will replace it.

Partners and founders of ARENA2036

ARENA2036 was started by well-known business and economic entities. Industrial concerns and research institutes work hand in hand under one roof to develop ways of making the cars of tomorrow. The seven founding members of ARENA2036 are the industrial firms BASF, Daimler und Bosch; from the research sphere come the German Institute for Textile and Fiber Research (DITF), the German government’s Aeronautics and Space Research Center (DLR), the Fraunhofer Society (FhG) and the University of Stuttgart. The number of members currently stands at seventeen, with the STARTUP AUTOBAHN accelerator program one of the newcomers. A joint project between Daimler, Plug and Play and the University of Stuttgart, it is housed in the Stuttgart area to help accelerate the turning of mobility engineering ideas into startups.
The mission of ARENA2036 is not only to provide a platform for business and industry; students from all types of degree programs are eligible to work on its projects – particularly projects that are relevant to their final theses.

The ARENA2036 research program

Lightweight vehible body
Lightweight vehicle body

How can intelligent lightweight construction help take the pressure off technical specialists while saving resources? This research area aims to achieve significant reductions in vehicle weight and thus fuel consumption. To this end, the switch increasingly is being made to lightweight fiber reinforced plastics (FRP). These plastics offer outstanding possibilities for integrating the most varied functions in a vehicle structural component. They include sound and heat insulation, fluid or energy storage as well as integration of thermic, sensor, or electrical wiring. This broad spectrum of possibilities is researched and tested in the LeiFu (Leichtbau mit Funktionsintegration, i.e., lightweight construction with functional integration) research area.


Draper Simulation in the fiber research area.
Draper Simulation in the fiber research area.

A precondition for using FRPs in series manufacturing of cars is dynamic data exchange. Among the data required, for example, is crash test behavior, process design, fabrication planning and computer aided manufacturing (CAM). Available digital prototypes of metal parts will not do here, since FRP properties depend crucially on how the fibers are oriented and processed. DigitPro’s goal therefore is to design a new, completely digital model of a component that reproduces all design, construction, and manufacturing steps.


Completely new work processes in the research factory.
Completely new work processes in the research factory.

The vehicle production of tomorrow works with lightweight construction materials for series production of functionally-integrated components. To do this successfully, enterprises must not only manufacture economically but master a broad spectrum of varied forms. The goal must therefore be to move beyond the classic assembly line and develop flexible manufacturing instead. This is where the research factory comes in. In this model facility on the ARENA2036 campus, the foundation is being laid for a radically new, comprehensive manufacturing concept based on research and development work contributed by all areas of ARENA2036.


In ARENA2036, new ideas surface for creative cooperation in research.
In ARENA2036, new ideas surface for creative cooperation in research.

How do ideas come about? What fosters creativity? What is the fastest way to transfer ideas from the research factory to industrial manufacturing? The research campus and the novel cooperation model are studied, analyzed and reflected on by human factors scientists. The goal is to better attune the development of manufacturing and technologies to each other and transfer knowledge efficiently in novel ways.




ARENA2036 e.V.

Pfaffenwaldring 19, 70569 Stuttgart

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