The concept is outfitted with an 80-kilowatt-hour battery pack and is driven by a single electric motor on the rear axle capable of generating 465 hp and up to 553 pound-feet of torque.
The Sky Sphere, which stands just more than 4 feet tall, highlights its exaggerated front hood with heightened front wheel arches to carry the massive 23-inch wheels, which themselves feature slits designed to cool its regenerative braking. The grille is covered in glass and houses an array of sensors that would one day enable Level 4 autonomy, a look that is carried back below its aerodynamic rear deck. To increase ease of entrance to the cabin, its two doors are hinged in the rear.
“We try to offer an experience that goes way beyond what a roadster today offers,” said Gael Buzyn, head of Audi’s digital design studio in Malibu, Calif., where the Sky Sphere was first conceived in digital form. “The Audi Sky Sphere is a big step ahead into the future.”
With its soft top removed, the two-seater features a huge cabin dominated by capacitive controls and a door-to-door display screen that switches from traditional automotive displays when being operated by a human passenger to entertainment displays when in autonomous GT mode.
While the Sky Sphere is unlikely to see production in its current form, aspects of it are intended for production in Audi vehicles later in the decade, Buzyn said.
“The design prefigures the design language upcoming for the brand. It is a blend of muscular fluidity, architectural lines that shoot though the car. It is extremely elegant and streamlined,” Buzyn explained.
Wenders said that while the Sky Sphere was conceptual, designers worldwide need to think about the transition from drivers to users of autonomous automobiles to expand their thinking about how future vehicles should be shaped and should function.
“It’s important that we are starting to open up our mind and come up with concepts and interpretations, based on technology which is offered to us,” Wenders said. “We are witnessing the most fascinating decade in automotive industry, because we’re transitioning the automobile into an experiential device.”