Audi has debuted its latest concept car, the Skysphere. The EV is strictly a concept, which means that Skysphere models won’t be rolling around on public roads, unlike Audi’s E-Tron. The Skysphere’s showstopper feature is that the wheelbase can expand and contract based on the type of driving it’s doing. The concept is is not only electric, but autonomous, too.
The Skysphere concept is “powered” by an electric motor on its rear axle that makes around 623 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque. If it was real, it could go from 0 to 62 miles per hour in four seconds. Audi says the motor won’t have trouble handling the car’s weight, which is kind of a lot. The Skysphere concept comes in at just under 4,000 pounds and it’s weight is distributed 40/60 front and rear. Audi says it has a range of over 310 miles.
When in “Sport” mode the Skysphere is controlled by the driver, and it’s wheelbase contracts to provide more agility. When drivers want to hand over control, they can turn on “Grand Touring” mode and the car takes over. The wheelbase expands nearly ten inches, the ground clearance decreases less than half an inch, and the steering wheel and pedals retract into the cabin. This will allegedly let drivers relax as the level 4 AV takes control.
That’s all well and good, but I don’t see much overlap between an autonomous grand tourer and a sports car. I can easily see how AVs could make life better for sedan or minivan drivers, but a sporty two-seater is the last place I’d expect self-driving features to be necessary. It sounds a little boring, really, or lonely. Uneventful.
If I’m in a convertible like this, I’m gonna drive the thing. But that’s just me. Remember, this is a concept so it’s meant to show us what the carmaker sees for the future of driving and the direction it could be headed rather than what it will actually produce.
The Skysphere also confirms that the design language Audi debuted with the E-Tron GT is going to stick around for a while. There are two other concepts on the way, both of them building on the sphere theme. The Grandsphere and the Urbansphere are set to debut by 2022.