Audi's latest concept car, the Skysphere, is a sleek, sinister-looking electric convertible that combines Batmobile-like technology and aggressive design elements with luxury amenities.
The automobile was unveiled on Tuesday for the 2021 Monterey Car Week in California, which includes the famed Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance car event. The Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance is the culmination of a week dedicated to the classic automobile! Concours is said to be the world's premier celebration of the automobile, attracting collector car aficionados from all over the world to compete in an elegant competition. Only a few of the world's top collector automobiles make their way onto Pebble Beach Golf Links' famed 18th fairway, with only a few of them getting formal distinction for style, technical merit, and historical accuracy.
The coastal California town of Monterey hosts a bevvy of historic and modern car events known collectively as Monterey Car Week held in August. Many of the world's sports, super, and luxury automobile manufactures use the Monterey festivities and Pebble Beach event to debut their current models, so it's not just classic cars that draw attention.
The Audi design incorporates the roadster idea and digital cockpit with retractable steering wheel and pedals that are designed to pack away while the car is driving itself, as well as a flexible wheelbase that can change proportions dependent on driving modes.
Head of Audi, Henrik Wenders said during a media event, “This is what we call progressive luxury. This is not rather a car, it’s an experience device. It’s not just a design study, it’s a concept showing us, internally and externally, what’s possible. It is a concept showcasing us how we are combining both an automotive driving experience with an immersive digital experience. This is two-in-one.”
According to Audi officials, the concept car illustrates what the firm feels it can achieve in the second part of this decade as it transitions to electric and autonomous vehicles. Audi intends to provide only electric vehicles by 2033, after introducing its last internal combustion engine vehicle in 2026.
The Skysphere is designed to drive itself, according to Audi, although it cannot do so at current time. It's uncertain how practical a vehicle that can alter sizes for a manufacturing model would be.
According to Audi, an 80.0-kWh battery pack would give the Skysphere a range of around 310 miles on the European WLTP test while it's in the more fuel-efficient grand touring mode. Expect to see elements of the Audi Skysphere in Audis in the near future, but don't expect to see a production Audi Skysphere.
Even though sophisticated technologies, such as an adjustable wheelbase, are not yet on the horizon, Wenders believes automakers like Audi should be thinking about what could be feasible with EVs. Apart from the technological advancements, the vehicle represents a new design direction for the Volkswagen-owned luxury brand.
So, what does two vehicles in one mean?
The first is a fast-driving roadster with 553 pound-feet of torque and a top speed of 60 mph in about four seconds. The second is a self-driving grand touring coach car that will extend by 10 inches to provide a larger, more comfortable cabin.
The Skysphere is the first in a new line of concept automobiles from Audi that focuses on the company's transition from cars to "experience devices." The Grandsphere, the second vehicle, will be unveiled on Sept. 1, followed by the Urbansphere in the first half of 2022.
According to Audi, the term "sphere" is supposed to represent the internal space of the vehicles for drivers and passengers.
Despite the sporty design and lack of visible cargo space, there's enough under glass and slightly above the rear drivetrain assembly for a custom luggage set, as well as two unique golf bags beneath the long hood.