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Audi reveals the future of mobility with four concept cars

12/09/2019
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Who doesn’t love a good concept car? The best concept cars combine futuristic looks with tantalisingly advanced technologies and there’s been no shortage of new examples at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, especially from Audi which has used the occasion to reveal the fourth of a series of wildly different concepts.
Audi reveals the future of mobility with four concept cars
(Image via Audi).

Centred around 4 different scenarios – an endless trip on the highway, a joyride on a curvy stretch of road, a hectic drive through urban traffic, and a day trip out into nature – Audi’s four new concept cars imagine a future in which ‘customers access to mobility is tailor-made to fit their needs’. 

Electric mobility, autonomous driving, intelligent lighting design and car-to-car communication are reflected in the design of the four cars, with passengers being the focal point of the designs, rather than the driver experience.

“In the classical product portfolio, the vehicles often need to accommodate many different needs, which causes compromises. We took a radical approach with these show cars and designed user-centred vehicles for individual needs,” says Claus Potthoff, Head of Design Strategy at Audi. “And we always keep our goal in mind: to give the customer more freedom and space.”

As well as being united by the same design philosophy, all four of Audi’s new concept cars share the same moniker: AI – standing for Audi Intelligence.

Audi AI:CON 


Long-distance comfort is the modus operandi of Audi’s AI:CON concept car. Built for ultra-long distance cruising, the AI:CON is suitably massive being nearly 7ft wide, and just under 18ft long. A definitive D segment offering, the AI:CON features an inverted hexagonal ‘Singleframe’, which will be a typical feature of the upcoming generation of electric cars from Audi.
The Audi AI:CON concept has been designed for long-distance comfort
(Image via Audi).

The AI:CON features suitably impressive performance stats too. 800km range is matched with a charging time of 30 minutes (to reach 80% charge) and 660 litres of cargo space.

It’s on the inside of the AI:CON that things truly become conceptual. The first thing you’ll notice is that the car has no B pillar, with opposed doors that open to the front and rear. The seats themselves are truly remarkable with Audi stating that ‘the architecture of the seats is the automotive reinterpretation of a classic piece of furniture, the lounge chair’. The rest of the interior is suitably minimalistic yet high-quality, as you would expect from Audi. Steering wheel, pedals, dashboard buttons – these are all missing, replaced instead with a variety of infotainment and communication interfaces.
The interior of the Audi AI:CON exudes luxury and refinement.
(Image via Audi).

As you’d expect for a long-range cruiser, the AI:CON’s powertrain has optimised for efficiency. A total of four electric motors are located in the area of the front and rear axles, whilst the energy storage units are integrated into the area below the floor. Each motor produces approximately 260 kW.

Audi AI:RACE


The complete opposite of the AI:CON, the AI:RACE is a radically streamlined and lightweighted mid-engine sports car with a cab that is positioned far forward.
The Audi AI:RACE concept is an uncompromising performance-first vehicle
(Image via Audi).

The stand-out feature of the AI:RACE is the adjustability of the driving compartment. The driver’s seat and cockpit are integrated into an inner monocoque shell that can be slide laterally. When driven solo, the monocoque can be positioned in the centre of the interior as in a monoposto – the perfect set-up for the racetrack. The by-wire design of the AI:RACE’s steering and pedals means that a mechanical connection is not required.

“We want to offer the driver an experience that is otherwise available only in a racing car like the Audi R18. That’s why we developed the interior around the ideal driver’s position in the centre. Nevertheless, our aim was to also give the AI:RACE a high degree of everyday usability, not just for the driver, but also for a potential passenger,” says Gael Buzyn, Head of the Audi Design Loft in Malibu – where the Audi AI:RACE was born.
The interior of the Audi AI:RACE is focused on track performance
(Image via Audi).

Aside from its innovative cabin the AI:RACE promises blistering performance. Yes, it’s only a concept car, but Audi has stated that the AI:RACE would be equipped with three powerful electric motors delivering a maximum output of 500 kW (although there’s the option to temporarily boost this to 570 kW). Acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) would be scarcely more than 2 seconds. Yeesh!

Audi AI:ME


If zooming around town is more your type of driving, then the Audi AI:ME is the concept car for you. Audi describe the AI:ME as ‘building a bridge between a driver-controlled and self-driving car’. You can choose to drive yourself around town, then let the autonomous function take over in rush hour traffic or on the motorway. The AI:ME gives a novel visual signal to let you know when it is moving to autonomous mode: the steering wheel folds down and a table folds out.
Could the Audi AI:ME concept be the future of urban driving?
(Image via Audi).

Audi understands that driving around town or through heavy traffic can often be a stressful experience, so the AI:ME has been designed to be ‘an oasis of calm’ with Audi designer James Nissen describing the interior as a ‘third living area’.

“We designed the AI:ME entirely from a user experience standpoint. We put ourselves in the position of the person who wants to drive from point A to point B in the city with the AI:ME – and to escape from the noise of the big city during the drive. That’s why our design process was primarily focused on the interior of the AI:MW,” says Nissen.
The interior of the Audi AI:ME includes PLANTS!!!
(Image via Audi).

The interior of the AI:ME stands up to Nissen’s claims. It’s quite unlikely anything you’ve seen in a car before. In the centre is a table (featuring magnetic coffee cups which can’t slide off) surrounded by luxury armchairs which adjust themselves to the passengers’ favourite position when the car is unlocked. To add an extra element of home comfort the AI:ME even features a real climbing plant which sits along the centre of the car’s ceiling. 

This thing really is a living room on wheels…

 Audi AI:TRAIL


Do you like the outdoors life? Then Audi’s got you covered with the last of its four concepts, the Audi AI:TRAIL.

‘The car is designed to reflect its usage case: off-road driving. It’s a situation that lets the user experience nature close up and helps slow them down in a hectic world’ says a statement from Audi.
The Audi AI:Trail is the German manufacturer's take on electric, autonomous off-road mobility
(Image via Audi).

A bold, prominent cabin offers the driver and passengers a 360 degree of their surroundings immersing them in nature. Badged as a Quattro, the AI:TRAIL features eye-catching tyres which provide immense grip on even the most challenging of surfaces. These lay down the power of the AI:TRAIL’s four electric motors which are linked to the car’s underbody battery.

On the inside things are just as interesting (and unusual). The first thing that will catch your eye will be the two rear seats. We say seats but they’re more like hammocks. Audi describe them as hanging chairs which will help passengers relax and take in the surrounding natural environment. Elsewhere in the interior you’ll find rugged features such as grab handles made of climbing rope, and natural materials such as wood, felt, and wool- all of which Audi assures us are sustainably produced.
The interior of the Audi AI:Trail features hanging chairs which are redolent of hammocks.
(Image via Audi).

Oh, and did we mention if features DRONES?!? Yes, the AI:TRAIL incorporates five drones as part of its lighting design. The drones can independently fly out ahead in different formations in order to provide the perfect lighting scenario. In-built cameras also enable the drones to transmit video back to the vehicle to give you a ‘heads up’ about the trail ahead.

With the AI:TRAIL Audi has certainly gone off the beaten track of concept car design and ventured into truly unexplored territory.

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Audi reveals the future of mobility with four concept cars - Time to read 7 min
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