The future is wide open
Audi has unveiled the first member of a new family of concept vehicles, a spectacular roadster. Audi skysphere concept is the name of the electric-powered, two-door convertible whose lines lead directly to the Audi design of tomorrow. With it, the brand is illustrating its vision for the progressive luxury segment of the future, in which the interior becomes an interactive space and the vehicle a platform for captivating experiences. This is being made possible thanks to autonomous driving, a revolutionary redesign of the interior, and a seamless digital ecosystem.
The Audi skysphere concept shows how the brand is redefining luxury in the future – it’s no longer just about driving. The concept car was designed with the clear objective of offering its occupants captivating and world-class experiences.
To give passengers the maximum amount of freedom, the Audi skysphere concept was designed for two different driving experiences: a grand touring experience and a sports experience. This makes use of a spectacular technical detail – 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 millimeters. At the same time, the vehicle’s ground clearance is adjusted by 10 millimeters to enhance comfort and driving dynamics.
With the touch of button, the driver can take advantage of their freedom and choose their own driving experience– either they pilot their 4.94-meter-long e-roadster themselves in “Sports” mode with a reduced wheelbase, while the rear-wheel steering ensures that the vehicle remains extremely agile despite its dimensions. Or they can choose to be chauffeured around in a 5.19-meter GT in the autonomous “Grand Touring” driving mode while enjoying the sky and the scenery, maximum legroom, and the services offered by a seamlessly integrated digital ecosystem.
In this mode, the steering wheel and pedals move into an invisible area; the feeling of space in the concept car opens up completely new realms of possibility for such a sporty convertible. Meanwhile, the Audi skysphere automatically keeps an eye on the road and traffic with its sensor system and drives the occupants safely to their destination.
Similar to how the interior design offers a new, contemporary interpretation of luxury, digitization and the ecosystem open up unprecedented levels of freedom and worlds of experience for the vehicle’s passengers. 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 vehicle also takes care of everyday tasks that go beyond the ride itself. For example, the autonomous Audi skysphere concept picks up its passengers with information about their current destination and independently handles parking and charging.
The Audi skysphere concept will make its public debut on August 13, 2021, as part of Monterey Car Week – on the legendary fairways of the Pebble Beach golf course. This means the vehicle’s unveiling in California is taking place more or less on its home turf. This is because the concept car was conceived and designed at the Audi Design Studio in Malibu, just a stone’s throw away from the Pacific Coast Highway, the legendary coastal road that connects the suburbs of Los Angeles with northern California. Studio manager Gael Buzyn and his team are the creative minds behind the project. A legendary classic model from the company’s own history – the Horch 853 roadster – served as the inspiration for the new groundbreaking model. The impressive convertible, which is also around 5.20 meters in length, was not only the definition of modern luxury in the 1930s, but also won the Concours d’Elegance in Pebble Beach in 2009.
But the visual inspiration from its predecessor is limited to the concept car’s dimensions and typical proportions with a rather compact cabin and long front end. A look under the hood of the Horch reveals an imposing straight-eight engine with a displacement of 5 liters. The Audi skysphere, on the other hand, mainly has electric drive components between the front axle and the windshield, such as the charger and the DC/DC converter, plus the actuators and electronic and mechanical components for the adaptive wheelbase. It also features a spacious trunk filled with two golf bags specially designed for the concept car.
Audi skysphere, Audi grandsphere, and, coming in 2022, Audi urbansphere are the three concept cars that the brand with the four rings is using to showcase its vision of progressive luxury. In the process, Audi is creating a vehicle experience that goes far beyond the purpose of merely spending time in a car to get from point A to point B, and even far beyond the driving experience itself.
These concept cars feature a new design that ultimately reimagines the interior, the passenger compartment, as the center of the vehicle and no longer subordinates the passenger experience to the requirements of the technology. This is reflected in the variable layout of the interior, the disappearance of the controls, and the sheer expanse of the cabin. In Grand Touring mode, this not only allows both passengers to enjoy a smooth and pleasant journey, but also combines it with new service offerings. These can be used to access a variety of service options related to the current trip – such as designing a spectacular scenic route, as well as restaurant or hotel options.
Customized infotainment options are also available, such as linking the on-board streaming service to music and video providers used at home. And in a further step, Audi also aims to provide personalized and exclusive options for users of its luxury cars in the future – such as concerts, cultural events, or even sporting events that are only available upon special invitation. In this way, a vehicle like the Audi skysphere concept will become a platform for experiences that expand horizons beyond the mere ride in just a few years.