Audi designs urbansphere concept for Chinese megacities

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Audi has unveiled the plans for the Audi urbansphere concept car. Designers and engineers initially created the Audi urbansphere for use in high-traffic Chinese megacities, although the concept is also suitable for any other metropolitan center in the world.

In these urban areas, where personal space is particularly scarce, the concept car offers the largest interior space of any Audi to date. It cleverly coordinates this with digital technologies and services that engage all the senses and deliver a new level of experience.

In order to meet the demands of our Chinese customers, Audi’s design studios in Beijing and Ingolstadt worked closely together to jointly develop the Audi urbansphere concept car.

—Markus Duesmann, Chairman of the Management Board of AUDI AG and Head of China Market

For the first time, potential customers in China could also participate in the development process, contributing their own desires and perspectives in a process called “co-creation”.

The spacious urban sphere acts as a lounge on wheels and a mobile office, serving as a third place to live during the time spent in traffic. To this end, the Audi urbansphere combines the luxury of complete privacy with a full range of high-tech features on board, even during the daily rush hour. Automated driving technology transforms the cabin, which notably lacks a steering wheel, pedals or screens, into a mobile interactive space that provides a gateway to a wider digital ecosystem.

Audi skysphere (previous article), Audi grandsphere (previous article) and Audi urbansphere are the three concept cars that the brand has developed to present its vision of the world of high-end mobility of tomorrow.

The Audi skysphere concept electric roadster debuted in August 2021. It featured a vision of a self-driving GT that transforms into a self-driving variable-wheelbase sports car.

A few weeks later, Audi unveiled the second model in the sphere series, the Audi grandsphere concept, at the IAA 2021. This large four-seat sedan exemplifies 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, the software business of the Volkswagen Group , to introduce this technology in the second half of the decade.

Even at first glance, the Audi urbansphere concept turns out to be the largest model of the sphere family and of all Audi concept cars to date. Its large 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 , but the Audi urbansphere concept radically breaks with segment conventions.

The most important dimension is the unequaled 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 occupants’ need for ample space as a distinctive comfort factor.

To make e-mobility even more attractive, we think about it holistically and based on customer needs.

—Markus Duesmann

More than ever, it is not only the product that is decisive, but the whole ecosystem. That’s why Audi is creating a complete ecosystem with services for the whole car. The Audi urbansphere concept also offers everyone on board a wide range of options to use this freedom to provide a highly personalized in-vehicle experience: communicate or relax, work or retire in a private sphere of their choice. As such, it transforms from being strictly an automobile into an “experience device”.

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Drive system and load. The technology platform of the Audi urbansphere – the Premium Platform Electric or PPE – was designed exclusively for battery-electric drive systems and therefore makes full use of all the advantages of this technology. The key element of the PPE is a battery module between the axles, which, as in the large Audi sphere, contains around 120 kWh. Audi has managed to achieve a flat battery layout 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 point of view. The main advantages include a long interior and therefore legroom in both rows of seats. In addition, the absence of a gearbox cover and cardan tunnel increases the spatial comfort of electric cars.

The two electric motors of the Audi urbansphere concept are capable of delivering a total output of 295 kW and a system torque of 690 N m. These are impressive numbers that are often not fully exploited when driving in heavy city traffic. Nevertheless, the Audi urbansphere is still equipped with the permanent quattro four-wheel drive, an essential feature of the brand’s high-performance models.

The concept car has an electric motor on each of the front and rear axles which, by means of electronic coordination, implements the permanently available four-wheel drive as needed, balancing them against economy requirements. and autonomy.

An innovative feature is that the motor on the front axle can be switched off as required to reduce friction and thus energy consumption when coasting.

Fast charging, long battery life. The heart of the drive system is the 800 volt charging technology. It ensures that the battery can be charged up to 270 kW at fast charging stations in the shortest possible time. Thus, the charging times approach those of a classic stop to refuel a car powered by an internal combustion engine: ten minutes are enough to recharge the battery to a level sufficient to propel the car over 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 under the WLTP standard – and even when used for more fuel-intensive city and short-distance journeys, it is usually possible to avoid make unexpected stops to recharge.

Air suspension for maximum comfort. The front wheels are connected by a 5-link axle specially optimized for electric vehicles. At the rear there is a multi-link axle which, like the front axle, is made of lightweight aluminium. Despite the long wheelbase of 3.40 meters (11 feet), the steerable rear wheels provide excellent manoeuvrability.

The Audi urbansphere concept, like its closest relative the grandsphere, features Audi Adaptive Air Suspension, a single-chamber air suspension system with semi-active damping control. It offers exceptional comfort not only on city highways, but even on the uneven and often patched asphalt of downtown streets without any noticeable body movement.

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