Audi presents ‘Activesphere’ concept

Audi has now completed its quartet of electric Sphere concept cars with the Activesphere Concept. Like the other E-studies, the four-door crossover coupé has a special body feature: The Sportback rear of the Activesphere can be transformed into an open load floor at the touch of a button.

As with the previous studies of the Skysphere roadster, the Grandsphere saloon and the Urbansphere concept, Audi’s presentation of the Activesphere focuses on the peculiarities of the body concept and the interior with its intended use.

So let’s briefly review the familiar data on the electric drive: Audi has used the PPE modular system. Since the first production models on this platform (in the case of Audi in the form of the Q6 e-tron) are not due to be presented until later this year, some details remain somewhat vague. With a battery of around 100 kWh, the crossover should have a range of over 600 kilometres. Since the entire width of the vehicle between the axles is used for the battery, its housing is to remain relatively flat – Audi does not give a figure here.

One thing is clear: with a peak output of up to 270 kW, the 800-volt system should enable short charging times. Audi speaks of power for 300 kilometres in ten minutes or less than 25 minutes from five to 80 per cent charge. If 100 kWh net and exactly 25 minutes are taken as a basis, this corresponds to an average charging power of 180 kW from five to 80 per cent.

The Activesphere Concept is powered by one electric motor per axle, which together deliver 325 kW and 720 Nm. This does not make the Audi study the most powerful PPE model: Porsche has already promised up to 450 kW for its electric Macan. The front and rear wheels are each connected via a five-link axle. The concept car uses air suspension with adaptive dampers.

Now to the special character of the Activesphere: On the one hand, the 4.98-metre-long crossover coupé is supposed to be an elegant luxury-class vehicle and enable comfortable travelling – most likely comparable to an SUV coupé in the style of today’s Q8 Sportback e-tron. At the same time, however, the vehicle is also intended to be suitable as a leisure vehicle and can be transformed from a Sportback into an “Activeback” with an open load area at the touch of a button – “perfect for carrying leisure equipment such as e-bikes or water and winter sports equipment”, as Audi explains.

If required, the transparent rear window slides almost flush over the roof. At the same time, the lower, vertical segment of the rear folds into a horizontal position. “This opens up a respectable loading area in which holders for e-bike wheels, for example, are already recessed,” is how Audi describes the concept. Incidentally, the word “pickup” is used only once in the long press release. Since the load area is limited to the sides by the C-pillar and is open to the rear, Ingolstadt apparently prefers the neologism ‘Activeback’.

In the interior, the study features a new display and control technology based on a “mixed reality” approach: Called “Audi dimensions”, the system relies on high-tech data glasses worn by the driver. On the one hand, the glasses are designed to allow a view of the real world (and, if the autonomous driving function is not activated, also a view of the road), while at the same time superimposing information and interaction elements that appear three-dimensional into the field of vision.

Since the information displayed can be different for the driver and passenger, both people can use the same areas for other tasks. The driver, for example, is shown all data relevant to driving. Touch-sensitive zones are embedded in the real dashboard, which can be used to operate the buttons displayed in the glasses – again differently for driver and passenger.

As with the other vehicle concepts, the Audi Activesphere is more about exploring the technical possibilities and future use of a vehicle, including reactions to them, and less about a preview of concrete models. “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,” says Oliver Hoffmann, Board Member for Technical Development. “The interior becomes a place where the passengers feel at home and can connect to the world outside at the same time. The most important technical innovation in the Audi activesphere is our adaptation of augmented reality for mobility. Audi dimensions creates the perfect synthesis between the surroundings and digital reality.”


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