Audi presents PPE-based activesphere concept; electric drive quattro coupé with active back cargo bed
Audi has presented the activesphere crossover study with electric drive and quattro. As the fourth model in the series, the Audi activesphere concept marks the culmination of sphere concept vehicles, following on from the Audi skysphere roadster in 2021, and both the Audi grandsphere sedan, and the Audi urbansphere space concept in April 2022.
The Sportback rear of the 4.98 meter-long activesphere can turn into an open cargo bed (“active back”) at the touch of a button—perfect for carrying recreational equipment such as e-bikes or water and winter sports gear.
The Audi activesphere features a drive system and suspension which make it equally adept on both on and off the road. The steering wheel and pedals allow the driver to actively control the car, while also offering autonomous driving for a more relaxed time on the road. As a coupé, it features classic proportions and lines, but in just a few seconds, the car transforms into a quasi pickup for transporting sports gear—there is even enough space for two e-bikes in the cargo bed.
With an electric drive and quick-charging technology from Audi’s PPE modular system, the Audi activesphere offers a range of more than 600 km, and extremely fast charging times due to 800-volt technology.
The Audi activesphere’s ground clearance is variable; ideal for off-road use, it can be increased by 40 millimeters (1.57 inches) from the basic height of 208 millimeters (8.19 inches), or lowered by the same amount when driving on-road. This benefits both the center of gravity and aerodynamics when driving fast. The approach angle of the Audi activesphere—relevant for off-road drives—is 18.9 degrees, the departure angle 28.1 degrees.
The variable ground clearance is reminiscent of an Audi model family that has attracted an enthusiastic, loyal fan base in the C and later B segments since 2000—the Audi allroad. From the first generation, this family also features air-spring suspension with variable ground clearance and a visually offset floor assembly with underride guard elements as a significant design feature. Equally significant for all allroad models is the Avant package option.
The activesphere marks the first time that a car with a Sportback hatchback incorporates the design elements and technical equipment of an allroad. For this reason, Audi calls the new body variant “active Sportback” in contrast to the allroad.
As with its relative, the Audi grandsphere concept, the doors of the Audi activesphere, which are attached to the A- and C-pillars at the front and rear, open in opposite directions; there is no B-pillar here either. This innovation means the entire interior space opens up to passengers as soon as they get into the car.
PPE. Due to its dimensions and performance level, the Audi activesphere concept lends itself to the use of Audi’s Premium Platform Electric (PPE). Like the related Audi grandsphere and Audi urbansphere concept cars, the activesphere concept draws on this modular system for series production. It is being developed under Audi’s leadership together with Porsche AG. The first Audi production vehicles based on PPE will be presented, one after the other, before the end of 2023.
The PPE is designed exclusively for battery-electric drive systems and can therefore take full advantage of all the benefits of this technology for the betterment of the cars’ driving characteristics, economy, and package options.
As a result, Audi can effectively expand the range of electric vehicles in its portfolio via the high-volume B- and C-segments. In addition, economies of scale will allow luxury-class technology and various different model versions to be incorporated into a wide-ranging lineup of models.
The PPE is designed to accommodate a range of high-volume automobiles—including SUVs and CUVs with high ground clearance as well as cars with a flat silhouette that are part of Audi’s core product range, such as the Audi A6 series, whose external dimensions and wheelbase are almost identical to the Audi activesphere concept.
The key element of the future PPE fleet is a battery module between the axles; in the Audi activesphere concept, it holds around 100 kWh of energy. Using the entire car width between the axles makes it possible to achieve a relatively flat layout for the battery.
Electric motors on the front and rear axles of the all-wheel drive Audi activesphere concept together deliver a total output of 325 kW and a system torque of 720 N·m. The front and rear wheels are connected via a five-link axle. The concept car features Audi adaptive air suspension with adaptive dampers.
800 volts. The heart of the drive technology in all future PPE models will be the 800-volt charging technology. This ensures that the battery, like the one in the Audi e-tron GT quattro before it, can be charged with up to 270 kW in a very short time at fast-charging stations. This technology will enter the high-volume mid-range and luxury segments with the PPE for the first time.
The PPE technology enables charging times that come close to a conventional refueling stop for a combustion engine car. Just 10 minutes is sufficient time to take enough energy on board to power the car for more than 300 kilometers. In less than 25 minutes, the 100 kWh battery charges from 5 to 80 percent. Together with its range of well more than 600 kilometers (373 miles), the Audi activesphere thus positions itself as unconditionally suitable for long distances, when need be.