In an interview, Gael Buzyn, Senior Director of the Audi Design Loft in Malibu, California, explains the new approach Audi chose in designing the Audi skysphere concept*.
The Audi skysphere concept* is the first of four concept cars that redefine progressive luxury. The vision is to offer occupants a fascinating high-end experience that goes far beyond the practical reasons for being in a car. The interior becomes an interactive space, making the vehicle what Audi likes to call an “experience device”. All this is made possible by automated driving*, a revolutionary interior redesign and a 360-degree digital ecosystem.
The Audi skysphere concept* was designed to combine two different driving experiences in one vehicle: a grand touring experience and a sports experience. This is made possible thanks to a spectacular technical feature: the variable wheelbase. Electric motors and a sophisticated mechanism with interlocking body and frame components allow both the wheelbase and the exterior length to be varied by 250 millimeters. At the same time, ground clearance can be varied by 10 millimeters.
The 4.94-meter “Sports” mode configuration delivers an agile electric roadster for drivers to steer themselves. Here, the focus is on the vehicle dynamics. Like the steering wheel and pedals, all the controls on the dashboard and monitor panel in the center console are ideally positioned for each driver in the ergonomically perfect cockpit. If occupants prefer the comfortable, automated “Grand Touring” mode, the Audi skysphere concept* extends to a length of 5.19 meters and the steering wheel and pedals disappear from view. Then occupants enjoy not only a sense of space that explores new dimensions in a sporty cabriolet but also services delivered by a seamlessly integrated digital ecosystem.
The Audi skysphere concept* is designed in such a way that the passenger compartment becomes a hub where what occupants experience no longer comes second to the demands of technology. Instead, the interior becomes an interactive space. The Audi skysphere4 is designed for automated driving*.
With all the controls out of sight in “Grand Touring” mode, the car’s interior is a light, open space with a design that redefines contemporary luxury. The comfortable seats boast the visual elegance of designer furnishings yet uncompromisingly meet the functions of a car seat in driving mode – lateral support and safety features are part of the package. Thanks to their variable positioning in the passenger compartment, they offer generous freedom of movement and legroom.
“Grand Touring” mode lets occupants enjoy the freedom of choice that comes with automated driving4: They can relax in the open air, enjoy the scenery and the wind in their hair, or infotainment offerings. Large touch-screen monitors on the dashboard and in the upper area of the center console are used to operate the vehicle and infotainment systems. This makes it possible to display content from the Internet, video conferences or streamed movies.
The Audi skysphere concept* is connected to a digital ecosystem that provides the vehicle’s occupants with a broad range of service offerings not limited to any specific journey. With select offerings customized to passengers’ personal tastes, such as gallery openings, digital boutique visits or dinner reservations, the digital service offers additional experiences en route.
Even in “Grand Touring” mode, when it is 5.19 meters long and 2.00 meters wide, the Audi skysphere concept4 ducks down to the road at 1.23 meters flat, with an optimized center of gravity and aerodynamics. With the Four Rings’ signature curved and flared wheel arches, the design accentuates the wide wheelbase. Viewed from the side, the car reveals its impressive proportions that feature a long hood and short overhangs as well as the broad side sill that appears to extend into the rear wheel arch. The doors are hinged at the rear and open wide.
The front is shaped by the brand’s typical Singleframe and the eye-catching design of the illuminated Four Rings emblem. Daytime running lights in the side front sections lend the lighting units a look that is both resolute and focused. The entire Singleframe and adjacent side surfaces are equipped with white LED elements, which give the Audi skysphere concept* its characteristic light signature. Optimized in the wind tunnel, the rear end with its classic streamlining fuses speedster elements with generous glass surfaces. The design of the rear end also features a digitally controlled LED surface across the vehicle’s entire width for dynamic lighting effects when the lighting units are switched on and off.
When the wheelbase of the Audi skysphere concept* is changed, the LEDs at the front and rear of the vehicle display a specially composed dynamic light sequence. The “Grand Touring” and “Sports” modes each have a distinct light signature, especially in the Singleframe area. This is how the Audi skysphere concept* sends a clear message to the outside world: I am two personalities offering two unique experiences—a Gran Turismo and a top-class athlete.