The Audi activesphere – the fourth and latest model to be introduced under Audi’s futuristic series of concept vehicles – is designed to explore “maximum versatility for an active lifestyle.” This four-door crossover study is a luxury coupé that turns into a pickup. It is designed to be equally capable on-road as it is off-road, thanks to its electric drive and quattro technology.
Following on from the Audi skysphere roadster unveiled in 2021, the Audi grandsphere sedan and the Audi urbansphere space concept in April 2022, the Audi activesphere is 4.98 metres long with impressive ground clearance, and large 22-inch wheels.
The Sportback rear of the activesphere can turn into an open cargo bed (called “active back”) at the touch of a button. The bed is large enough for carrying recreational equipment, such as two e-bikes. With an electric drive and quick-charging technology from Audi’s Premium Platform Electric (PPE) modular system, the Audi activesphere has a range of over 600 km, and extremely fast charging times thanks to 800-volt technology.
The concept car was conceived and designed at the Audi Design Studio in Malibu, where studio manager, Gael Buzyn, and his team, are the creative minds behind the project. “The activesphere is unique. It is a new type of crossover that cleverly combines the elegance of an Audi Sportback, the practicality of an SUV and true offroad capabilities,” says Gael.
Oliver Hoffmann, a Member of the Board of Management for Technical Development, says of the concept series: “The sphere concept vehicles show our vision for the premium mobility of the future. We are experiencing a paradigm shift, especially in the interior of our future Audi models.
Unlike current approaches, the design specifications for the “Sphere” series of concept cars start with the interior – the “living and experience sphere” of the occupants whilst travelling. Their needs and desires shape the interior space – its architecture and its functions. Only then were the package, proportions, and lines of the exterior design.
“The interior becomes a place where the passengers feel at home and can connect to the world outside at the same time. But the most important technical innovation in the Audi activesphere is our adaptation of augmented reality for mobility. Audi dimensions creates the perfect synthesis between actual surroundings and digital reality,” adds Hoffmann.
The autonomous chauffeuring capability gives drivers and passengers a new level of freedom on suitable terrain, which, thanks to the new display and operating technology, can be used in the activesphere in a variety of ways. The innovative operating concept, called Audi dimensions, combines the physical and virtual worlds by displaying digital content in the occupants’ fields of vision in real-time.
High-tech headsets provide a view of the real environment and the route, while simultaneously displaying 3D content and interactive elements – individually configurable for drivers and passengers. This means all driver-relevant information, such as driving status and navigation, can be displayed.
And in the interior, headset users can see control panels and other virtual displays in a tidy, minimalist design that remains hidden to the unaided eye. Mixed reality optics gives users the ability to interact with these real, yet invisible, touch-sensitive zones, as the headsets display and carry out functions by reacting in real-time when users touch them.
The centrepiece of the new system is, therefore, the innovative mixed reality headsets – available individually for each driver and passenger. Users also have access to a comprehensive digital ecosystem while they’re in the Audi activesphere. This concept is also the first to use a new generation of this technology possessing improved optical precision, higher resolution and contrast. It brings the control surfaces and displays, invisible to the unaided eye, into the user’s field of vision while behind the steering wheel.
Due to its dimensions and performance level, the Audi activesphere concept lends itself to the use of Audi’s most innovative electric drive system: the Premium Platform Electric, or PPE for short. This modular system for series production is being developed under Audi’s leadership, together with Porsche AG. The first Audi production vehicles based on PPE will be presented, according to the manufacturer, before the end of 2023.
The PPE is designed exclusively for battery-electric drive systems and can therefore take full advantage of all the benefits of this technology – to improve the car’s driving characteristics, economy, and package options.
The activesphere features Audi’s adaptive air suspension with adaptive dampers. The front and rear wheels are connected via a five-link axle. Electric motors on the front and rear axles of the all-wheel drive concept deliver a combined total output of 325 kW and a system torque of 720 Newton metres.
The heart of the drive technology in all future PPE models will be the 800-volt charging technology. This ensures that the battery, like the one in the Audi e-tron GT quattro before it, can be charged with up to 270 kW in a very short time at fast-charging stations.
PPE technology enables charging times that come close to a conventional refuelling stop for a combustion engine car. Just 10 minutes is sufficient time to take enough energy on board to power the car for more than 300 kilometres. In less than 25 minutes, the 100 kWh battery charges from 5 to 80 per cent. Together with its range of well over 600 kilometres, the Audi activesphere positions itself as unconditionally suitable for long distances, when needed.
Audi has not given any indication that activesphere, or any of the other concepts in the “sphere” series, will ever reach the production line. As of now, these are no more than studies in various design concepts. However, one can expect a number of the technologies developed and implemented in these concepts to make their way into the real-world Audi models in the near future.