Audi Urbanosphere Concept
An electric van from Ingolstadt?
April 22, 2022, 7:11 pm
Audi can create a lot of stir in this country with the UrbanSphere study. After all, it is a fully electric powered van whose main purpose is to provide comfort and relaxation to the commuters suffering from traffic jams. But the excitement is completely in vain, because the space miracle is not sold in this country.
Audi makes a van. That alone may have caused a certain frown among Four Rings fans. Does such a “soccer moms car” fit in well with a sporty premium brand? Yes, Audi thinks so, albeit in a very specific way. The Ingolstadt-based company is showing what it looks like in China with an Urbansphere Concept study. Anyone who thought there might be a cool city electric car behind the name “Urban” is grossly mistaken. The opposite is the case. The study measures a whopping 5.51 meters in length, making it the largest vehicle ever built by Audi. The wheelbase alone is 3.40 meters longer than the Maybach variant of the Mercedes S-Class.
Vehicle type vans, also known as MPV (Multi-Purpose Vehicle), have lost a lot of wings in the past in terms of image and demand. The reason for this is SUVs, which in turn have become increasingly popular. Vans are considered uncool and not too sexy, at least in this country. It’s even more surprising that Audi is tackling the van chapter at all.
Exclusively for Chinese customers
The background is China. The UrbanSphere concept is exclusively for Chinese customers. Which also immediately begs the question of who should buy such a large share in Germany or Europe: none. But what is different in China? In theory, two things: the daily mega-traffic jams in metros like Beijing or Shanghai, and the existence of a similarly designed car called the Toyota Alphard. Of course, no one here knows the latter, but it’s a hit in China and is considered more attractive than any hefty luxury sedan. Because Alphard offers first class seating and space comfort. Just the right thing to be able to stop behind, sleep, work or watch TV and enjoy the annoying time in oncoming traffic.
So Audi’s developers, marketing strategists and the design center in Beijing worked closely with potential Chinese customers to jointly define the perfect spacecraft. “Never before have we integrated clients so deeply into a single process,” says Norbert Weber, Head of Interior Design. In Car Clinic, “What’s the most important thing to you?” Like general questions were asked. Interesting: The result was that neither performance nor driving dynamics favor prestige, but comfort and space are more important. That’s why the demand for Toyota Alphard is high.
“Wellness on Wheels”
Those who feel comfortable getting past the Audi Urbanosphere concept can really prepare themselves for “wellness on wheels.” Leather is out. Instead, fabric and wood dominate. The seat rotates outward by 15 degrees when boarding. The forward legroom is so great that it’s impossible to hit the front seats. It’s also not comfortable to cross your knees in business class on an airplane. Quite Like China: The carpet from Zen Garden has a special pattern. The driver can also relax. The Urban Concept is designed for Level 4, the steering wheel disappears into the dashboard in autonomous mode.
From the outside, Audi’s “Space Shuttle” is almost an optical illusion. You don’t see the size of the car as long as it’s parked alone, estimated to be less than five meters in length, partly due to the huge 24-inch tyres. This distorts the ratio.
The designers have rethought the single-frame grille to have enough presence on the outside without showing too much aggression. It serves as the communication area for contact with the outside world in level 4 mode. The rear area was also designed according to this pattern. And Audi has already revealed so much: The UrbanSphere concept’s full, understated design language – more sculptural and no longer so angular – should be found in the brand’s future electric models.
Technically, the Super Van is based on the 800-volt PPE (Premium Platform Electric) architecture, also found under the Porsche Taycan and Audi e-tron GT. Audi does not disclose any performance data. They are insignificant anyway, especially in one study, but should be at the level of GT. In terms of battery capacity, everything is possible from “to”. The modular system, in combination with the spacious wheelbase, delivers over 100 kWh. That is, a range of about 600 km can be easily achieved.
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