21 Sept 2021
Audi has unveiled its first two “sphere” electric car concepts to showcase Audi’s vision of progressive luxury and its technological leadership in electric vehicles (EV). Both the Audi skysphere concept and Audi grandsphere concept made their debut at key car shows in the second half of 2021. The third of the trio – the Audi urbansphere concept – will appear in 2022.
These concept cars feature a new design that reimagines the interior and defines the passenger compartment as the centre of the vehicle and no longer restricts the comfort of the car’s occupants to the requirements of the car’s technology. They clearly illustrate how Audi is defining the future of driving by offering its occupants captivating and world-class experiences.
The “sphere” in the name further emphasises Audi’s mission to transform the car’s interior into an interactive space for captivating experiences. It is a vision made possible by integrating Audi’s automotive ingenuity with the revolutionary redesign of the interior, and a seamless digital ecosystem, supported by Level 4 self-driving technology.
In the Level 4 mode, the steering wheel and pedals will be retracted and tucked away neatly behind the dashboard to create more room to stretch out. This transforms the car’s interior into a luxurious lounge with maximum space, panoramic views, and access to all the functions of a holistic digital ecosystem that the Audi concept cars are integrated into.
The Audi skysphere concept features a spectacular technological advancement – the variable wheelbase. Electric motors and a sophisticated mechanism with body and frame components that slide into one another make it possible to vary the wheelbase itself and the exterior length of the car by 250 millimetres. At the same time, the vehicle’s ground clearance is adjusted by 10 millimetres to enhance comfort and driving dynamics.
With the touch of button on this revolutionary 2-seater convertible EV, the driver can choose the desired driving experience – either they pilot their Audi skysphere in “sports” mode with a reduced wheelbase for superior agility. Or they can choose to be “chauffeured” around in a slightly longer GT in the autonomous driving mode while enjoying the sky and the scenery, maximum legroom, and the services offered by a seamlessly integrated digital ecosystem.
Thanks to Audi’s own services and the ability to integrate digital services, the possibilities are nearly endless. In addition, the passengers can share their experience on the road with friends via social media, with images of the interior and the surrounding area.
The luxury of first-class air travel with all its comforts is embodied in the Audi grandsphere concept. Its exterior profile comes across as a luxurious sedan moulded in the form of a “tightly-drawn four-door GT”. To enhance the sense of spaciousness, the front doors of the Audi grandsphere are hinged like a conventional car but the rear doors open backwards. With no pillar in the middle, getting in and out of the car is through this impressive full-width portal.
Strikingly, there are no visible screens, dials or physical controls upon entry as Audi designers wanted to achieve a "digital detox". On start-up, relevant data and displays appear for the driver and passengers. Selection is via tabs, a rotary-style MMI touch button, or eye movements and gestures when in Level 4 mode.
Audi’s ingenuity in digital integration also allows occupants to access several options related to the current trip – such as planning a spectacular scenic route, as well as restaurant or hotel stopovers. Also, the Audi grandsphere concept features an infotainment system that is programmed to resume content that was playing on occupants' portable devices prior to entering the vehicle. The driver's-side screen will display any unfinished news articles on entry, for example, and the passenger's screen will resume any unfinished videos.
The Audi skysphere concept and the Audi grandsphere concept go far beyond conventional developments and their technological and design innovations are destined to appear in Audi production cars over the next few years. And when its time comes, the Audi urbansphere will further reimagine and revolutionise the future of luxury electric mobility.