Audi unveiled the grandsphere concept study—the second of three “sphere” concept cars from Audi. (Earlier post.) The 5.35 m (17.6 ft.) long grandsphere electric sedan combines the luxury of private travel in the greatest of comfort with a comprehensive onboard experience offering.
Level 4 automated driving turns the interior into a spacious sphere of experience without a steering wheel, pedals, or displays. The front seats become a first class lounge with maximum space, freer views, and access to all the functions of a holistic digital ecosystem.
The electrically driven roadster Audi skysphere concept debuted in August 2021. These two concept cars—as well as the Audi urbansphere, which will appear as the third part of the trio in 2022—are linked by their overall concept, which is derived from their ability to drive automatically at level 4. Audi is working with CARIAD, the Volkswagen Group’s software think tank, toward introducing that technology in the second half of the decade.
The Audi grandsphere not only frees the driver from the tasks of driving whenever possible, but at the same time also offers everyone onboard a wide range of options to use that freedom for individually variable experiences: communication or relaxation, work or withdrawal into a private sphere as desired. The Audi grandsphere concept transforms from being strictly an automobile in an “experience device.”
Due to Audi’s own services and the ability to integrate digital services, the possibilities are nearly endless. These can be used to access a variety of service options related to the current trip—such as designing a scenic route, as well as restaurant or hotel options. The vehicle also takes care of everyday tasks that go beyond the ride itself. For example, the autonomous Audi grandsphere concept picks up its passengers with information about their current destination and independently handles parking and charging.
Drive system and charging. The technology platform of the Audi grandsphere is the Premium Platform Electric (PPE)—conceived exclusively for battery-powered electric drive systems. The key element of PPE is a battery module between the axles that holds around 120 kWh of energy in the grandsphere concept. A flat battery layout is possible because Audi uses the entire vehicle base between the axes.
Together with the large wheels, this produces basic proportions that are perfect not only from a design perspective. The core benefits include a long interior and therefore 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 grandsphere does not forego the quattro drive system, which is essential to the brand. Separate electric motors mounted on the front and rear axles use electronic coordination to deliver all-wheel drive on demand and execute a balance between driving dynamics and energy efficiency. The Audi grandsphere concept’s two electric motors are capable of delivering a total output of 530 kW and a torque of 960 N·m.
The heart of the drive system is the 800 volt charging technology. Like the Audi e-tron GT before it, this technology ensures that the battery can be charged with up to 270 kW in a very short time at fast-charging stations.
This strategy makes charging times that approach a refueling stop for a car with a conventional engine possible. Just ten minutes are enough to charge the battery to a level sufficient to power the car more than 300 kilometers (186 miles). In less than 25 minutes, you can charge the 120 kWh battery from 5 to 80%.
Together with a range of more than 750 kilometers (466 miles)—depending on the selected drive system and power output—the Audi grandsphere concept is suitable for long distances.
Acceleration from 0-100 km/h (62 mph) takes just over four seconds; maximum speed is limited in the interest of increased range.
Air suspension and active suspension for maximum comfort. The front wheels are connected via a five-link axle, specially optimized for electric vehicles. In the rear, there is a multi-link axle that, like the front, is made of aluminum. Despite the long wheelbase, the steerable rear wheels provide excellent maneuverability.
The luxurious Audi grandsphere concept touring sedan utilizes Audi air suspension—a single chamber system with adaptive dampers. Quite well suited for dynamic driving when necessary it guarantees gentle comfort without noticeable vehicle body movements, under normal conditions.
The Audi grandsphere concept has active suspension. The high-tech system can separately pull up or push down on each wheel separately in milliseconds via electromechanical actuators. That makes it possible to actively control the state of the chassis in every driving situation and therefore significantly reduce pitching and plunging when accelerating or braking. Thanks to the front camera, which recognizes unevenness, the adjustments happen predictively. The navigation system’s topographical data are also used to integrate curve radii, gradients, and inclines into the system’s projection.