Audi is touting its newest Grandsphere concept car as a “private jet for the road.” While the vehicle can’t fly, the German automaker said it designed the electric car with such luxury private travel in mind.
Specifically, the interior of the vehicle is designed to be able to transform into a “first class lounge” when the car is in self-driving mode, including a steering column that stows away for more space for the driver and front passenger.
The concept car represents what the Volkswagen-owned brand believes it could achieve, as it pivots to electric and autonomous vehicles, according to company officials. Audi plans to exclusively offer EVs by 2033 after the last of its new vehicles with a gas-powered engine is introduced in 2026.
“It is the future of Audi,” Hildegard Wortmann, head of Audi’s sales and marketing, said Thursday during the car’s online unveiling. “We are at the dawn of a new era of mobility.”
To be clear, no vehicle being sold today is self-driving. All current driver-assist systems still require drivers to pay attention, but the Audi concept is designed to operate autonomously without driver supervision.
The Grandsphere is the second of three such concept vehicles. The first, called Skysphere, was unveiled last month as a performance roadster that blended Batmobile-like technologies with aggressive design and luxury amenities.
While the two cars share some exterior design characteristics, the Grandsphere is less sinister-looking and features a far cleaner and more luxurious interior, which was a main focus for Audi with the car.
“It’s no longer just about driving,” Henrik Wenders, head of Audi, said during the car’s unveiling. “Thanks to digitalization, it’s about experiences — personal, immersive and entirely human-centric.”
Potentially the most surprising thing about the vehicle is that there are no obvious screens in the cabin while in self-driving mode. Instead, everything that would typically be communicated via an infotainment system and more, including movies, are projected onto the vehicle’s wooden instrument panel under the windshield.
While some of the vehicle’s debut included computer-generated images, an Audi spokesman said the vehicle is real. It will be on display at the Munich Motor Show next week.
The term “sphere” in the names of the concept cars is meant to symbolize the interior space of the vehicles for drivers and passengers, according to Audi. The third concept, called the Urbansphere, is scheduled to be unveiled in the first half of 2022.