Audi’s Grandsphere concept car is another luxurious living room on wheels

Image: Audi

Automakers love concept cars that tease a future in which very rich people ride around in autonomous vehicles that look like luxurious living spaces. The latest is Audi’s Grandsphere, a spacious electric sedan with an interior that looks like it was designed by a Kardashian.

The car is designed to be adjustable based on the preferred driving style. If you want the car to drive itself, the steering wheel and pedals retract, leaving you sitting in a minimally designed living room setting with wood trim and wool textures. Instead of a screen, the car’s operating system is projected on the surface of the wood dashboard under the windshield. And when you’re ready to drive yourself, the manual controls simply appear.

Grandsphere is Audi’s second concept car in a series of three that the German automaker said would “reinvent mobility as we know it today.” The first was the Skysphere, a sleek, villainous-looking electric convertible with an adjustable chassis. Audi is using the term “sphere,” which is a three-dimensional representation of a ring, to describe each of these concepts. Still, it’s weird we’re only getting three concepts and not four like Audi’s logo, but so it goes.

Image: Audi

Audi says it is working with CARIAD, parent group Volkswagen’s software “think tank,” on developing some of the technologies it is showing off with the Grandsphere and other concepts. The automaker believes these features will be ready for consumer vehicles by the second half of the decade. (Best to take these statements with a grain of salt; automakers are very bad at predicting the future.)

Audi sees Level 4 autonomy — in which a car can drive itself without human interventions under certain conditions — as a means to redefine the interior of the vehicle. And the automaker isn’t alone in this theory. Other car companies, such as BMW, Volvo, and Hyundai, have projected similar ideas onto their concepts, with interiors transformed into “third places” in which we work, eat, sleep, and socialize.

This has long been the goal of those who believe that autonomous vehicles have the potential to transform society. Of course, autonomous vehicles have fallen short of expectations in recent years, with many companies seeking off-ramps as the timeline extends out and costs pile up.

Image: Audi
Image: Audi

Audi describes its Grandsphere concept as a “first class lounge with maximum space.” The exterior is also meant to convey similar notes of luxury and refinement, but it also looks deadly — and not in a bad way. Its stretched-out shape looks nothing like most sedans, with a wheelbase that is even longer than the current Audi A8. The automaker said it was trying to meld a sedan with a “tightly-drawn four-door GT” with the exterior profile. The sloping arc of the roofline hints at Audi’s sportback tradition.

Audi’s next concept will be the Urbansphere, which the automaker has described as a “private space in an urban environment.” But that vehicle won’t be revealed until 2022.

Comments

Exterior looks great but automakers are completely out of ideas when it comes to dashboard / infotainment designs on concept cars.

The Entertaining thing about this to me is that all in…This is effectively a take on the Sony Vision S.

Which Sony legitimately built…which is weird considering they don’t want to sell it but the car they built (With Magna) is incredibly close to production.

Oh they will. Its in production prototype phase right now. Sony silently releases new info and vids every two months or so.

Tell us more about the potted plant feature.

Why do you need to be seated to look out a windshield if the car drives itself? In my opinion, autonomous driving will turn cars into RVs – front seats that face rear passengers for socializing, tables for working and eating, etc.

a lot of people find rear facing seats nausea-inducing

Not if the "windows" are transparent OLED display screens.

Anyone can design a nice looking car interior. The hard part is the autonomous driving .. the interior is nothing compared to that. Why not put resources into getting autonomous driving to work, and then think about this interior decoration BS.

because fully autonomous driving is difficult (maybe too difficult?) and they need something for their marketing.

You can’t build hype with a report on how your self driving is coming. Specially when that report reads something like, we’re almost there, just another 10 years before it actually works the way you envision it.

Throwing together some renders isn’t that hard in comparison.

" Audi is using the term "sphere," which is a three-dimensional representation of a ring, to describe each of these concepts."
Go back to geometry class, a sphere is a 3 dimensional circle. A 3 dim ring is a torus.

Cool concept, terrible name.

My god car concepts don’t get more boring.

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