Audi unveiled Tuesday a concept car designed for customers in China’s megacities, a vehicle that aims to show how passengers of the future can escape the stresses of the city by withdrawing into their own private cocoon.
The so-called Audi urbansphere Concept is a long way off from production. However, the six-passenger car does give megacity dwellers a glimpse into the future that Audi envisions for them. In the future, traffic may get worse, but the in-vehicle experience will be customized to provide a range of retreats from urban life.
The car of the future will serve several functions, allowing drivers to work, relax or socialize, according to the automaker. Audi tasked designers with creating a multipurpose interior that can transform from an office to a cinema to a lounge with the press of a button.
“It's not just a matter of mobility, how do I get from A to B, but how do you use the time during that trip? Of course, there could be a host of different possibilities,” Markus Duesmann, Chairman of the Board Management at AUDI AG and responsible for the Chinese market, said in a media briefing. He called urbansphere a “completely new approach developed from the inside-out.”
Audi said the fully autonomous battery-electric pod concept was specifically designed for Asia’s metropolises but could be applied to other megacities around the world. China is a key market for most automakers.
“Thanks to automated driving and digitalization, we have completely new experience cases that today actually we can't even fully think of yet,” Duesmann said.
Urbansphere prizes passenger comfort even in congested neighborhoods, according to the company. Its 295-kilowatt, dual-motor setup comes with Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system and adaptive air suspension.
The concept sports a sleek profile with a long wheelbase, two-tone exterior paint, aluminum cladding and 24-inch wheels. Its interior -- Audi’s largest ever -- can be configured in several ways, using ambient lighting, digital screens and a four-plus-two seating layout. The pod can serve as a theatre, a workspace with individual screens or a bedroom with seats that recline into beds.
Audi aspired for the cabin to appeal to “all the senses first; not just the looks, but also the touch and feel of the materials,” said Christian Becker, Audi's manager of interior design.
“It shouldn’t be cluttered or crowded, but it shouldn’t feel empty either,” Baker said, pointing out the minibar and water dispenser in the center console. “These are all elements that are very emotional that really can stir positive emotions.”