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  • Writer's pictureNATALIA SOUSA

Audi to present the Audi Grandsphere concept study at IAA Mobility 2021

Visitors to the IAA in Munich will be able to visualise the 5.35 m long grandsphere sedan. The luxury vehicle concept combines opulent comfort with a comprehensive onboard experience offering. Featuring Level 4 automated driving and when utilised, the interior turns into a spacious sphere of experience without its steering wheel, pedals, or displays. The vehicles front seats become an elegant space with more unobstructed views and access to all the functions of a holistic digital ecosystem that the Audi grandsphere provides.

The grandsphere is the second of three Audi "sphere" concept cars. The technologies and design features assembled will likely turn up again in the future Audi series within a few years. The Audi grandsphere concept gives an overview of the future technological transformation and what the company claims to be completely new, holistic mobility offerings.

The electrically driven roadster Audi skysphere concept debuted in August 2021 – it was a spectacular vision of an automatically driving GT that transforms into a self-driving sports car with a variable wheelbase.

Audi is working with CARIAD, the Volkswagen Group's software think tank, toward introducing advanced L4 technology in the second half of the decade. Level 4 opens up new levels of freedom for all the passengers. Audi says its concept vehicle offers everyone onboard a wide range of options to use that freedom for individually variable experiences: communication or relaxation, work or withdrawal into a private sphere as desired. The Audi grandsphere concept transforms from being strictly an automobile in an "experience device. "

Audi' proposes its services and the ability to integrate digital services. These can be used to access a variety of service options related to any trip. For example, vehicle users can design a spectacular scenic route and restaurant or hotel options. The vehicle also takes care of everyday tasks that go beyond the ride itself. For example, the autonomous Audi grandsphere concept picks up its passengers with information about their current destination and independently handles parking and charging.

Customised infotainment options are also available, such as seamless integration of onboard streaming from music and video providers that have been used previously.

Audi says the grandsphere concept will illustrate the brand's claim that it defines the progressive luxury of the future. Audi continues, that includes the option of new high-class experiences, enabled by digitalisation, and a holistic approach to sustainability with the goal of carbon neutrality soon along the entire value chain.

The drive system and the handling are no longer at the top of the design specifications in this new generation of cars. Instead, the starting point is the interior, the occupants' living and experience sphere while travelling. Their needs and desires shape the space, the architecture, and the functions. With that reassessment, the design process itself changes. First, the focus is directed toward the interior and its design. Then, once the interior concept is accomplished, Audi designs the exterior package, exterior lines, and proportions that shape the car into a real work of art, along with the technological premises.

The doors of the Audi grandsphere concept are reversed. There is no B-pillar. The long grandsphere sedan combines the luxury of fine travel in the greatest of comfort with a comprehensive onboard experience offering. Level 4 automated driving makes new dimensions of freedom possible: in this mode, the interior turns into a significant sphere of experience without a steering wheel, pedals, or displays. And the front seats become a first-class lounge with maximum space, freer views, and access to all the functions of a holistic digital ecosystem that the Audi grandsphere is integrated into.

The technology platform of the Audi grandsphere – what is known as the Premium Platform Electric, or PPE – was conceived exclusively for battery-powered electric drive systems. Therefore, it takes full advantage of that technology. The key element of PPE is a battery module between the axles that hold around 120 kWh of energy in the grandsphere concept. A flat battery layout is possible because Audi uses the entire vehicle base between the axes.

Together with the large wheels, this produces basic proportions that are perfect not only from a design perspective. The core benefits include a long interior and, therefore, legroom in both rows of seats. Additionally, the absence of a gearbox cover and a Cardan tunnel increases spatial comfort in electric cars.

Nonetheless, the Audi grandsphere does not forego the Quattro drive system, essential to the brand. That is because the concept car has separate electric motors mounted on the front and rear axles that use electronic coordination to deliver all-wheel drive on demand and execute a perfect balance between driving dynamics and energy efficiency. The Audi grandsphere concept's two electric motors can deliver a total output of 530 kW and a torque of 960 Newton meters.

The heart of the drive system is the 800-volt charging technology. Like the Audi e-tron GT before it, this technology ensures that the battery can be charged with up to 270 kW in a very short time at fast-charging stations.

Together with a range of more than 750 kilometres (466 miles) – depending on the selected drive system and power output – the Audi grandsphere concept is unconditionally suitable for long distances. Furthermore, its range and charging speed keep pace with those of combustion engines, making it the perfect universal car for everyday needs