The Audi Skysphere Has an Awesome Transforming Wheelbase That Might Be Illegal
Like many other luxury automakers, Audi is making new strides regarding vehicle design. It aims to have a better self-driving feature than Tesla, one which will primarily focus on safety. Audi also has business in an off-roading motorsports competition with the hybrid, 671-hp Audi RS Q e-tron.
Audi also just dropped its latest concept vehicle design in a recent press release. The transformer-like Audi Skysphere comes equipped with an all-electric powertrain and a dynamic wheel design to enhance its performance. However, there’s a good chance the Skysphere will be illegal if it ever makes it to production.
The Audi Skysphere’s debut
The Skysphere was heavily inspired by the electrified PB18 e-tron concept, according to The Truth About Cars. This concept would have reportedly reached 60 mph in just a hair over two seconds while riding on a skateboard platform. There was also no driveshaft taking up precious space in the cabin. The driver’s seat of the PB18 e-tron could even be moved toward the cabin’s center, folding away the passenger seat entirely.
The Audi Skysphere roadster follows the same idea, albeit with a heavily stylized exterior. Audi says it’s supposed to be a more modern take on the retro Horch 853 Sport Cabriolet. In fact, Autoblog says the Skysphere is only an inch shorter than the Horch. It measures 204 inches long and 78 inches wide, riding on 23-inch wire-clad wheels. The intricate design isn’t just for show: the spokes increase the Skysphere’s range by cooling the regenerative braking system. Meanwhile, double-wishbone axles rest at both ends of the car, and it rides on an adaptive air suspension.
The electric motor rests under the rear axle, generating 624 hp and 533 lb-ft of torque. It can reach 60 mph in as little as four seconds, with an electric range of 311 miles. The vehicle also has Level 4 autonomy, meaning it can safely complete trips without driver intervention.
In autonomous mode, the steering wheel and pedals retract to create an open cabin. In driver-operated mode, you can also move these components freely around the interior. Riders and passengers sit on recycled microfiber seats with imitation leather and eucalyptus wood. Front-seat riders can also enjoy a massive touchscreen measuring almost five feet long across the dashboard. Additionally, the Grand Touring trim is equipped with internet streaming services and an audio system with concert hall tuning.
Is the Audi Skysphere’s wheelbase illegal?
The Audi Skysphere’s wheelbase can be customized at the driver’s will, with just under 10 inches of additional length. This longer wheelbase transforms the Skysphere into a comfortable cruiser for daily driving. Additionally, the Skysphere’s ground clearance can be slightly adjusted for better performance, allowing it to shift into Sport mode with just the press of a button should a twisty road emerge. Audi says these adjustments are possible using a sophisticated sliding body-on-frame mechanism connected to the Skysphere’s electric motor.
It sounds neat in theory, but AutoWeek points out that this would be difficult to implement for a production car. The transforming wheelbase on the concept model isn’t constrained by car manufacturing standards or local road laws, which likely means the Skysphere wouldn’t be street legal.
Will we ever be able to buy an this concept car?
For now, the Audi Skysphere will probably remain strictly a concept car. However, we might likely see its self-driving software installed on future Audi cars. We might also see that big touchscreen on an existing model to compete with the Hyperscreen from Mercedes-Benz.
In the meantime, we have two other Audi concepts to look forward to. The Grandsphere concept will also debut this year, which might go into production by 2025. The Urbansphere’s reveal will then follow it in 2022.