The Audi Urbansphere — the last of three concepts exploring a future beyond the combustion engine and with advanced automated driving — uses familiar exterior styling to build an alternate mobile interior living or working space.
The electric vehicle, shown last week, is targeted primarily at Chinese consumers but with an eye toward North America. It follows two other EV concepts: the variable-geometry Skysphere roadster and the Grandsphere, a large luxury grand touring sedan with two front-row seats and a rear bench.
While the three concepts’ on-road roles differ widely, each lays out a future in which manually piloting the vehicle is largely optional for the driver and the cabin serves a secondary purpose as an entertainment venue. With the Urbansphere, the environment is taken to the extreme: It has an adaptive stress relief program that uses facial scans and voice analysis to determine how passengers are feeling. The program offers personalized suggestions for relaxation — for example, a meditation app can be used via the personal screen and the private sound zone in the headrests.
For refreshment, a center console swivels upward and contains a water dispenser and glasses for rear-seat passengers. A large format transparent OLED screen can pivot vertically from the roof area into the zone between the rows of seats, occupying the entire width of the interior of the four-seat Urbansphere, which also offers eye-tracking, gesture, voice and touch options to activate the climate control and infotainment systems.
Based on Volkswagen Group’s Premium Platform Electric platform, the Urbansphere has two electric motors that deliver total output of 295 kilowatts (396 hp). The EV’s range is up to 466 miles, based on Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedure guidelines. It uses 800-volt charging technology, which Audi says means the 120-kilowatt-hour battery can be charged from 5 to 80 percent in less than 25 minutes.
Audi didn’t say whether the three concepts or the technology will make it into production. The German premium brand intends to fully transition to an all EV lineup by 2033.