Two Cars in One: Audi’s Skysphere EV Concept
Audi has unveiled the first member of a new family of concept vehicles, a spectacular roadster. Audi skysphere concept is the name of the electric-powered, two-door convertible, in which the interior becomes an interactive space and the vehicle a platform for captivating experiences. This is being made possible thanks to autonomous driving, a revolutionary redesign of the interior, and a seamless digital ecosystem.
The Audi skysphere concept shows how the brand is redefining luxury in the future—it’s no longer just about driving. The concept car was designed with the clear objective of offering its occupants captivating and world-class experiences.
To give passengers the maximum amount of freedom, the Audi skysphere concept was designed for two different driving experiences: a grand touring experience and a sports experience. This makes use of a spectacular technical detail—the variable wheelbase. Electric motors and a sophisticated mechanism with body and frame components that slide into one another make it possible to vary the wheelbase itself and the exterior length of the car by 250 millimetres. At the same time, the vehicle’s ground clearance is adjusted by 10 millimetres to enhance comfort and driving dynamics.
With the touch of button, the driver can take advantage of their freedom and choose their own driving experience– either they pilot their 4.94-meter-long e-roadster themselves in “Sports” mode with a reduced wheelbase, while the rear-wheel steering ensures that the vehicle remains extremely agile despite its dimensions. Or they can choose to be chauffeured around in a 5.19-meter GT in the autonomous “Grand Touring” driving mode while enjoying the sky and the scenery, maximum legroom, and the services offered by a seamlessly integrated digital ecosystem.
In this mode, the steering wheel and pedals move into an invisible area; the feeling of space in the concept car opens up completely new realms of possibility for such a sporty convertible. Meanwhile, the Audi skysphere automatically keeps an eye on the road and traffic with its sensor system and drives the occupants safely to their destination.
Similar to how the interior design offers a new, contemporary interpretation of luxury, digitization and the ecosystem open up unprecedented levels of freedom and worlds of experience for the vehicle’s passengers. Thanks to Audi’s own services and the ability to integrate digital services, the possibilities are nearly endless. In addition, the passengers can share their experience on the road with friends via social media, with images of the interior and the surrounding area. The vehicle also takes care of everyday tasks that go beyond the ride itself. For example, the autonomous Audi skysphere concept picks up its passengers with information about their current destination and independently handles parking and charging.
An electric motor positioned on the powered rear axle is responsible for delivering power to the wheels of the Audi skysphere. A total of 465 kilowatts of power and 750 Newton meters of torque have an easy time with the roadster, which only weighs around 1,800 kilograms. The weight distribution of around 60 per cent on the powered rear axle results in ample traction and acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in just four seconds, if required.
A long-established Audi chassis technology ensures that the suspension delivers the necessary level of versatility – the latest evolutionary stage of Audi’s adaptive air suspension has been implemented in the concept car and features three independent air chambers to provide a comfortable base suspension. Individual chambers can be deactivated for a more sporty ride with fast acceleration. The result is that the characteristic curve of the spring becomes more progressive, reducing roll and pitch to a minimum. Lowering the body by 10 mm reduces aerodynamic drag – particularly relevant when driving long distances.
When it comes to their footprint—5.23 meters in length versus 5.19; a width of 1.85 versus 2.00 meters – it is easy to see the similarity between the legendary Horch 853 convertible and the Audi skysphere. A striking difference, on the other hand, can be found in their height—the legendary Horch, with its iconic design, towered up to 1.77 meters depending on the body shape, while its autonomous descendant, the Audi skysphere, ducks down to the road in Sport mode at 1.23 meters flat, with an optimized center of gravity and aerodynamics. The concept car pays its respects to the classic model without merely remaining a retro imitation.
After all, apart from its dimensions, it’s the lines that make a real difference. With its wide curved and flared wheel arches typical of the brand, the skysphere emphasizes the wide track—a visible indication of its dynamic talents. Viewed from the side, the proportions are impressive with a long hood and—especially at the front—a short overhang. The surfaces of the wheel arches and front hood are organically curved. The rear end was developed in a wind tunnel and combines elements of a speedster and a shooting brake with large glass surfaces in a traditional streamlined design. Two overnight bags designed specifically for the Audi skysphere find space under the glass, and are held in place with straps that are stretched in a crosswise pattern.
The rear end is also dominated by a digitally controlled LED surface that extends across the entire width of the vehicle. Countless red LEDs are scattered like rubies across the vertical rear surface. Reflections create dynamic lighting and shadow effects when the lighting units are switched on and off.
Upon changing the wheelbase and thus the operating mode from GT to Sport, the light signature also changes and sends a clear indication of the changed character of the Audi skysphere concept, particularly in the area around the Singleframe.
As a result, control elements such as the steering wheel and pedals can be swiveled into an invisible position and thereby completely removed from the interior. And passengers, including the one in the front left seat, can enjoy a new form of freedom – the freedom to relax in the open air, enjoy the scenery and the wind, or interact with the Internet and the world thanks to the connection with the digital ecosystem in the Audi skysphere.
Free of controls, the interior appears as a light, spacious environment, inspired in many areas by the Art Deco universe. The comfortable seats boast the visual elegance of designer furnishings, yet they fulfill the functions of a car seat in driving mode without any compromises—side support and safety features are part of the package. They are upholstered in sustainably produced microfiber fabric and, thanks to their variable position in the interior, offer the kind of freedom to move and legroom that can otherwise only be experienced when flying first class on an airplane. Environmentally certified eucalyptus wood and synthetically produced imitation leather are other sustainably manufactured materials that contribute to creating an unparalleled experience in the vehicle’s interior.
A high-quality sound system—befitting of this luxury convertible—delivers concert hall audio quality even when the vehicle is in motion. The speakers are hidden behind the door panels; a few more in the rear interior wall even produce surround sound. The shape of the headrests prevents turbulence and also annoying wind noise.
Audi skysphere, Audi grandsphere, and, coming in 2022, Audi urbansphere are the three concept cars that the brand with the four rings is using to showcase its vision of progressive luxury. In the process, Audi is creating a vehicle experience that goes far beyond the purpose of merely spending time in a car to get from point A to point B, and even far beyond the driving experience itself.