We previously only had sketches of Audi’s funky Urban concepts but now we can bring you photos of the real thing. And the illustrations really didn’t does these vehicles justice. In the flesh, their short dimensions and large, exposed wheels give them a wonderfully chunky stance.
Unveiled as both a coupe and convertible, the urban technology concepts offer 1+1 seating for city driving.
The electric-powered show car weighs just 1060 lb, and combines elements of a racecar, roadster, fun car and city car into the radical new concept. It offers the comfort and safety of a closed automobile but the mobility of a scooter.
With its sleek body and exposed wheels, the technology study is progressive and dramatic while trying to be agile and comfortable.
The cabin of the urban concept offers slightly offset seating for two. The roof slides back to allow entry for the driver and passenger. This innovative solution makes the Audi urban concept even more fun to drive because the canopy can be left open in good weather.
The study is targeted at people who are interested in technology and are enthusiastic about new approaches to mobility. In particular, it should appeal to urban drivers whose lifestyles embrace the car’s modern concept and the driving pleasure associated with it. The urban concept also makes it a good fit for a innovative leasing system.
The Audi urban concept features an all-new design that evokes design parallels with the Auto Union racecars of the 1930s since they were extremely lightweight and their engines were mounted in the rear. Their large, open wheels are another parallel with the modern show car.
Painted in Electric White pearl-effect paint the vehicle is 127” long, 66” wide and just 47” high. The greenhouse is extremely flat, and the roofline drops down like a wedge while the side window rises upward.
The Speed Red contour line gives the appearance of a roll bar and evokes the Audi R8 sports car. Below it, the flanks flare toward the bottom to enlarge the floor. This serves to generate downforce at higher speeds and can be used to charge the battery via induction.
The characteristic Audi single-frame grille appears as a closed surface on the concept. It tilts forward to provide access to the charging socket. The narrow LED headlights project from the body.
The indicator signals are LED strips running along the fenders, which encircle the wheels and turn with the steering. The rear lights are integrated into the vehicle body and wrap around the top of the rear window. At the back of the car is a small luggage compartment that pulls out like a drawer.
The front segment of the greenhouse is movable – another innovative idea that is unique to the Audi concept. Mounted on rails, it can be slid back by hand over the fixed rear segment.
The driver can decide whether to close the canopy or leave it open but it has neither roll-down windows nor a heavy air conditioning system. When closed, the canopy provides protection against inclement weather.
Audi also developed a second body variant as an alternative to the urban concept: a Spyder with a flat window strip wrapping around the cockpit and its scissor doors that open at an upward angle.
Entry to the urban concept is possible when the canopy has been slid backwards. The driver and passenger step over the edge of the vehicle as if they were stepping into the bathtub – there are no doors. This does not require any great flexibility; a handle on the windshield frame and special cutouts on the seats make entry simple.
The show car offers room for two. The driver and passenger sit next to one another, with the right seat offset to the rear by 12” to provide more shoulder and elbow room. The seats are fixed, integral components of the monocoque to save weight.
The seats are made to the measure the driver, just like in a racecar. The seatbelts run through cut-outs in the seat backs.
Sitting in the concept is like sitting in the cockpit of an aeroplane. The driver can precisely adjust the positions of the aluminum pedals and the steering column. The pedals can be moved 8.7”, while the steering column can be moved 5.5” for easier entry and an additional 2.4” for a custom driving position.
The steering column is exposed – a thick, elegantly designed section, open in the center and mounted almost horizontally. At the far end of the steering column is a display of the most important driving information. The small, hexagonal steering wheel includes buttons and roller switches for controlling various systems, including the Audi drive select modes for the electric drive system.
Running below the windshield across the entire cabin is a wing-shaped section that is open in the middle. This new style of dashboard includes satellite controls for the heater and two large air vents.
Rather than carpeting, an innovative mat covers parts of the floor. This is made from a material developed for athletic shoes that is water repellent and durable. The seats are covered with cloth, with the edges framed in kangaroo leather. Aluminium applications accentuate elements on the dashboard.
The outer skin of the show car is made of carbon fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP); the occupant cell is a mix of CFRP monocoque and an aluminum structure. The suspension wishbones are made from a combination of aluminum and CFRP to locate the 21” wheels.
Manufactured using cladding technology, the wheels are very light and feature a variant of the blade design from the Audi e-tron models. The tire sizes are as unusual as the car – 125/60 R21 at the front and 145/50 R21 at the rear.
The Audi urban concept uses pushrod suspension technology borrowed from motorsport with the struts mounted inside the monocoque nearly horizontal. Four disc brakes provide the stopping power. Thanks to the vehicle’s low weight, the rack-and-pinion steering does not require any power assistance.
Crumple zones in the front and rear plus two airbags offer for a high degree of passive safety. An innovative assistance system helps the driver to avoid collisions with pedestrians.
The battery is mounted transversely behind the seats. The lithium-ion battery, which weighs around 200 lb and stores 7.1kWh of usable energy. The study’s two electric motors together produce 20hp of continuous power and 35 lb-ft of torque. The motors are mounted between the rear wheels, which they drive via a single-speed transmission.
The Audi urban concept accelerates from 0-62mph in 16.9 seconds. It reaches 37mph in around six seconds. The show car steps off from traffic lights smartly thanks to the torque of the electric motors, which is fully available from standstill. Top speed is governed at 62mph.
The vehicle’s range in the European driving cycle is just over 45 miles. The battery recharges completely in about 20 minutes with a 400-volt, three-phase electric supply, and in approximately one hour with 230-volt European household current.
Audi is also developing a contactless induction charging – Audi Wireless Charging (AWC). The infrastructure side, comprising a coil and an inverter (AC/AC converter), could be built into the normal parking space of the Audi urban concept and connected to the power grid. The 3.6kW primary coil set into the plate generates a high-frequency alternating field.
The charging process begins when the urban concept is driven onto the plate. The alternating magnetic field induces an alternating current across the air gap in the secondary coil, which is integrated into the vehicle. This current is rectified and fed into the vehicle’s electrical system, where it charges the battery or powers systems such as the heater. The alternating field is only generated if the vehicle is parked over the plate and so poses no danger to people or animals. Charging stops automatically when the battery is fully charged, and can be interrupted by the driver at any time.
The efficiency of AWC is comparable to that of other charging technologies. It is not affected by rain, snow or ice. The new technology makes charging electric vehicles easy and extremely convenient. A future version of the technology will be suitable for integration into the transportation infrastructure as a retrofit for car parks or residential streets, for example.