Following on its earlier concepts for future electric mobility, Audi unveils the urbansphere, an autonomous battery-electric concept designed for densely populated megacities in China that literally rolls out a red carpet for passengers.
The car is very large and designed to turn creeping through dense traffic into a relaxing, immersive experience. It is 18 ft. (5,490 mm) long, 6.6 ft. (2,000 mm) wide and almost 6 ft. (1,830 mm) tall and features many infotainment functions for occupants that can be enjoyed as a group or individually.
Audi says the most important dimension is the unrivaled wheelbase of 11.2 ft. (3,400 mm), which enables the interior to avoid conventional space limits for seats, storage compartments and other functional elements. Instead, it prioritizes the occupants’ need to experience ample space as a distinctive comfort factor.
The concept is based on the use of L4 autonomous vehicle technology. Audi currently is working with CARIAD, Volkswagen Group’s software business, to introduce this technology within the second half of the decade.
The doors of the urbansphere are counter-hinged at the front and the rear; there is no B-pillar. As a result, the whole world of the interior opens up to passengers as soon as they climb in. Seats swivel outward and the car literally rolls out a red carpet of light projected onto the ground next to the vehicle to transform the act of entering the car into an experience of comfort. Together with 5.8 ft. (1,780 mm) of headroom and expansive glass surfaces, these dimensions provide an exceptionally spacious experience of the interior.
Many of the car’s interior materials, such as the hornbeam veneers, come from sustainable sources. This choice of material makes it possible to use wood that has grown close to the manufacturing site, and the entire tree trunk can be utilized. No chemicals are used during the manufacturing process.
The seat padding is made of ECONYL, a recycled polyamide. This material also can be recycled after its use in the vehicle without any loss of quality. The fact that the respective materials are installed separately also plays an important role in the ability to recycle them, as mixing them would drastically reduce the potential for recycling, Audi says.
Bamboo viscose fabric is used in the armrests and in the rear of the vehicle. Bamboo is becoming a popular sustainable material because it grows faster than ordinary wood, sequesters a great deal of carbon and doesn’t require herbicides or pesticides to grow.
From an industry standpoint, a significant aspect is the fact it was co-developed with potential customers in China.
“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,” says 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,” Duesmann says.