Audi Eyes Chinese City Mobility with Urbansphere Concept

Audi has unveiled its third ‘sphere’ concept this one imagining the future of the city dweller’s mobility.

Its urbansphere concept car is focused primarily for use in traffic of Chinese megacities. In these metropolitan areas, where personal space is in particularly short supply, the concept car claims to offer the largest interior space of any Audi to date. In addition, it coordinates this with technologies and digital services designed to appeal to all the senses.

The development process took place in close collaboration between Audi’s design studios in Beijing and its headquarters in Ingolstadt. For the first time, potential customers in China also took part, contributing their own desires and experiences to the development process. Level 4 automated driving technology transforms the interior without a steering wheel, pedals, or displays into a mobile interactive space that opens up potential offerings of a comprehensive digital ecosystem. The latest concept follows on from Audi skysphere and Audi grandsphere to showcase its vision of the premium mobility of tomorrow.


The technology platform of the Audi urbansphere, the Premium Platform Electric or PPE, was designed exclusively for BEV drive systems and takes full advantage of all the benefits of this technology. The key element of the PPE is a battery module between the axles which, as in the Audi grandsphere, holds around 120 kWh of energy. Audi has succeeded in achieving a flat layout for the battery by using almost the entire base of the vehicle between the axles.

Together with oversize 24-inch wheels, this produces basic proportions that include a long interior and optimum legroom in both rows of seats. Additionally, the absence of a gearbox cover and a cardan tunnel increases spatial comfort in electric cars.

The Audi concept’s two electric motors are capable of delivering a total output of 397bhp and a system torque of 508ft-lbs. It also features quattro permanent four-wheel drive and achieves this with one electric motor each on the front and rear axles which, by means of electronic coordination. The motor on the front axle can be deactivated as required in order to reduce friction and thus energy consumption when coasting, not unlike the old free-wheeling hubs used by early series Land Rover Defenders.


The heart of the drive system is the 800-volt charging technology. It ensures that the battery can be charged with up to 270 kW at fast-charging stations in the shortest possible time. As such, charging times are approaching those of a conventional stop to refuel a car powered by an internal combustion engine, as just 10 minutes are enough to charge the battery to a level sufficient to power the car more than 186 miles. In addition, the battery, which holds more than 120 kWh, can be charged from 5% to 80% in less than 25 minutes. This means that a range of up to 466 miles can be expected using to the WLTP standard.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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