NO AUTOMAKER has done more to advance the cause of aluminum in cars than Audi. And the top aluminum guy at Audi these days is Wolfgang Ruch.
As head of Audi's Aluminum Center in Neckarsulm, Germany, Ruch plays a key role the production of the company's two super-light, aluminum-bodied cars, the small A2 that debuted in June 2000 and the A8 flagship.
In March, Audi rolled out its 100,000th A8 from Neckarsulm. Ruch's latest responsibility is starting production for the next A8, due at the end of the year.
Norsk Hydro, Europe's biggest producer of aluminum extrusions, gave Ruch his route into the auto industry. Time spent at its Hydro Automotive unit in Norway led to his current job.
Name: Wolfgang Ruch.
Title: Director of Audi's Aluminum Center in Neckarsulm, Germany, since 1999.
Previous job: Executive vice president, product and process development, at Hydro Automotive, part of Norsk Hydro's light metals division in Norway.
Lives in: Neckarsulm, Germany. I also have a place in La Celle St. Cloud, France, which is attractive because it is so close to Paris.
Nationality: German. I was born in Konstanz.
Languages: German, English, French, Norwegian and Danish with a Norwegian accent.
Family: Married to Ingeborg with two sons, 16 and 21.
Countries lived in: Germany, USA, Norway, France, Denmark.
Education: Apprenticeship in business administration, plus engineering degree (Ph.D In material science) at the Max Planck Institute in Stuttgart.
First car: A Triumph Spitfire. My wife bought it when we got married.