Bruce Wayne, step aside. There’s a new Batmobile in town. And Audi’s Skysphere is not only vegan and electric—it’s self-driving.
The German car manufacturer unveiled the futuristic electric vehicle concept at the 2021 Monterey Car Week. The high-end car festival is held annually in California each August and features car shows, races, auctions, and more.
Audi’s concept car is essentially two cars in one: a grand tourer and a sporty roadster. In grand touring mode, the two-seater convertible morphs into a grand touring vehicle and is fully autonomous, in theory at least.
The car’s interior looks something akin to an upscale lounge. “The idea was that we wanted to offer this kind of glamorous traveling experience to the user,” Gael Buzyn, Audi’s senior design director, explained.
But Audi also wanted to allow the driver to connect to the car in “a more visceral way.”
“So, the car can transform into sport mode,” Buzyn continued. “The geometry of the car changes. The wheel base decreases by 250 millimeters. That gives the car way more agility, way more control, and a more sporty, dedicated driving dynamics.”
The car’s adaptable wheelbase isn’t the roadster’s only interesting feature. Its digital cockpit features a steering wheel and pedals that retract when in self-driving mode.
“This is what we call progressive luxury,” Henrik Wenders, head of Audi, said. “This is not rather a car, it’s an experience device.”
Audi Skysphere: Redefining the driving experience
The convertible shapeshifter was inspired by Audi’s 1931 Horch 853.
“It’s not just a design study, it’s a concept showing us, internally and externally, what’s possible,” Wenders added. “It is a concept showcasing how we are combining both an automotive driving experience with an immersive digital experience. This is two-in-one.”
The Skysphere is Audi’s latest foray into electric cars. It unveiled its e-tron GT at the Los Angeles Auto Show in 2018. The 4-door luxury coupe, which will be available in December, boasts an all-vegan interior, made of recycled fabrics. The floor mats also feature reclaimed fishing nets.
The carmaker plans to completely pivot to all-electric vehicles, selling only EV models beginning in 2026. It will gradually phase out the manufacturing of all cars powered by diesel and gas by 2033. “Audi is ready to make its decisive and powerful move into the electric age,” CEO Markus Duesmann said in June.
Audi joins a growing list of automakers going electric. Earlier this year, Ford Europe revealed plans to be all-electric by the year 2030. The company invested investing $1 billion into a new manufacturing center for electric vehicles in Cologne, Germany.
In March, Porsche outlined its plan for achieving carbon neutrality by 2030, which includes embracing eclectic vehicles. That same month, Volvo revealed it will exclusively sell electric cars by 2030. And in April, Honda announced its plan of reaching 100 percent electric car sales by 2040.