Audi has unveiled plans for the Audi urbansphere concept car. Designers and engineers initially created the Audi urbansphere for use in traffic-dense Chinese megacities, although the concept is also suitable for any other metropolitan center in the world.
In these urban areas, where personal space is in particularly short supply, the concept car offers the largest interior space of any Audi to date. It intelligently coordinates this with technologies and digital services that appeal to all the senses and offer a new level of experience.
In order to meet the demands of our Chinese customers, Audi’s design studios in Beijing and Ingolstadt worked together closely to jointly develop the Audi urbansphere concept car.—Markus Duesmann, Chairman of the Board Management at AUDI AG and responsible for the Chinese market
For the first time, potential customers in China could also take part in the development process, contributing their own desires and perspectives as part of a process known as “co-creation”.
The spacious urbansphere acts as a lounge on wheels and a mobile office, serving as a third living space during the time spent in traffic. To this end, the Audi urbansphere combines the luxury of complete privacy with a comprehensive range of high-tech features on board, even during the daily rush hour. Automated driving technology transforms the interior, in which a steering wheel, pedals, or displays are notably absent, into a mobile interactive space that provides a gateway to a wider digital ecosystem.
Audi skysphere (earlier post), Audi grandsphere (earlier post), and Audi urbansphere are the three concept cars that the brand has developed to showcase its vision for the world of premium mobility of tomorrow.
The electrically driven roadster Audi skysphere concept debuted in August 2021. It presented a vision of a self-driving GT that transforms into a self-driving sports car with a variable wheelbase.
Just a few weeks later, Audi unveiled the second model in the sphere series, the Audi grandsphere concept, at the IAA 2021. This large four-seater sedan exemplified the brand’s ambition to define the future of progressive luxury.
What both concept cars have in common with the Audi urbansphere is that the entire concept is based on level 4 autonomous vehicle technology. Audi is currently working with CARIAD, Volkswagen Group’s software business, to introduce this technology within the second half of the decade.
Even at first glance, the Audi urbansphere concept reveals itself to be the largest model in the sphere family and of all Audi concept cars to date. Its grand dimensions—5.51 meters (18 feet) long, 2.01 meters (6.6 feet) wide, and 1.78 meters (5.8 feet) high—place it in the upper echelons of the automotive world, yet the Audi urbansphere concept radically breaks with the conventions of the segment.
The most important dimension is the unrivaled wheelbase of 3.40 meters (11.2 feet). The interior of the Audi urbansphere is not subject to the conventional maxim of squeezing as many seats, storage compartments, and functional elements as possible into a space limited by the physics of driving. Instead, it prioritizes the occupants’ need to experience ample space as a distinctive comfort factor.
To make e-mobility even more attractive, we think about it holistically and from the customer's needs.—Markus Duesmann
More than ever before, it is not just the product that is decisive, but the entire ecosystem. That is why Audi is creating a comprehensive ecosystem with services for the entire car. The Audi urbansphere concept also offers everyone onboard a wide range of options to use that freedom to provide a highly-personalized in-car experience: communication or relaxation, work or withdrawal into a private sphere as desired. As such, it transforms from being strictly an automobile into an “experience device.”
Drive system and charging. The technology platform of the Audi urbansphere—the Premium Platform Electric or PPE—was designed exclusively for battery-electric drive systems and therefore takes full advantage of all the benefits of this technology. The key element of the PPE is a battery module between the axles, which—as in the Audi grandsphere—holds around 120 kWh. Audi has succeeded in achieving a flat layout for the battery by using almost the entire base of the vehicle between the axles.
Together with the large 24-inch wheels, this produces basic proportions that are perfect not only from a design perspective. The core benefits include a long interior and therefore legroom in both rows of seats. Additionally, the absence of a gearbox cover and a cardan tunnel increases spatial comfort in electric cars.
The Audi urbansphere concept’s two electric motors are capable of delivering a total output of 295 kW and a system torque of 690 N·m. These are impressive figures that are often not fully utilized when driving in dense urban traffic. Nevertheless, the Audi urbansphere is still equipped with permanent quattro four-wheel drive—an essential feature for the brand’s high-performance models.
The concept car has one electric motor on each of the front and rear axles which, by means of electronic coordination, implements the permanently available all-wheel drive as required, balancing these against economy and range requirements.
One innovative feature is that the motor on the front axle can be deactivated as required in order to reduce friction and thus energy consumption when coasting.
Fast charging, high range. The heart of the drive system is the 800 volt charging technology. It ensures that the battery can be charged with up to 270 kW at fast-charging stations in the shortest possible time. As such, charging times approach those of a conventional stop to refuel a car powered by an internal combustion engine: just ten minutes are enough to charge the battery to a level sufficient to power the car more than 300 kilometers (186 miles). In addition, the battery can be charged from 5 to 80% in less than 25 minutes. This means that a range of up to 750 kilometers (466 miles) can be expected according to the WLTP standard—and even when used for more energy-intensive city and short-distance trips, it is generally possible to avoid making unexpected stops to charge.
Air suspension for maximum comfort. The front wheels are connected via a 5-link axle that has been specially optimized for electric vehicles. In the rear, there is a multi-link axle that, like the front axle, is made of lightweight aluminum. Despite the long 3.40 meter (11-foot) wheelbase, the steerable rear wheels provide excellent maneuverability.
The Audi urbansphere concept, like its closest relative the grandsphere, features Audi adaptive air suspension—a single-chamber air suspension system with semi-active damper control. It offers outstanding comfort not only on city highways, but even on the uneven, often patched asphalt of downtown streets with no noticeable body movement.