What will mobility look like down the line? To grapple with this question is to realize that the answer depends on a number of different factors. Smart technologies, digitalization and networking all play a vital role. But alternative drive concepts, too, are a powerful force. Take, for instance, electromobility. Here, Audi has already started the drum-roll for a groundbreaking event next year, the market launch of a purely electric-driven series production vehicle in 2018. To gain an initial impression of how the purely electric-driven future at Audi may look, best take a peek at the concept cars in the Audi e-tron family. This stable includes the Audi e-tron quattro concept as well as the Audi e-tron Sportback concept. The latter was first unveiled to an international audience at the Auto Shanghai 2017 spring show and also presented at the Audi Summit in Barcelona. It embodies a progressive step forward in design and technology while at the same time marking the latest milestone in the four rings’ e-vision. Exceptionally sporty contours, generous surfaces and a squat tail end are the hallmark of the concept car’s design. The Sportback’s coupé-like roofline that slopes markedly toward the rear not only gives the car an expressive look and feel but also adds to its efficiency. Its design has contributed to taking the drag coefficient down another notch or two compared with the Audi e-tron quattro concept already showcased in 2015. Minimizing drag helps maximize range—a crucial factor when it comes to people’s acceptance of purely electric-driven vehicles. The first thing you notice when looking at the front end is the Audi emblem, the four rings. Here, it’s illuminated. Also the Singleframe grille, another Audi hallmark, has a new look. Since the electric motor has nowhere near the requirement for air at the front as a combustion engine, the black Singleframe now provides space for a new design: The octagonal shape of the Singleframe cuts an emphatically broad, horizontal figure while the large opening can be dispensed with. Add to this a structured pattern on the sculpted cover. Features such as the virtual wing mirrors that replace the conventional mirrors attached to the vehicle doors serve to underscore the concept car’s visionary character. The virtual wing mirrors all but eliminate the blind spot associated with physical exterior mirrors, and the same goes for any obstruction of the driver’s diagonal forward vision.
Displays inside the doors present a needle-sharp image of what the camera captures on the outside. Modern-day minimalism is reflected in every aspect of the interior. What shapes the Audi e-tron Sportback concept’s cabin is an interplay of functional clarity and reductive controls. Expansive touch-sensitive screens below the central display, on the center console and in the door trims supply information and interact with the on-board systems. Horizontal surfaces on the dashboard and the seemingly floating center console convey a sense of open perspectives. Alongside its range of up to 500 kilometers, the Audi e-tron Sportback concept also promises some sporty fun behind the wheel thanks to zero to 100 kilometer-per-hour acceleration in 4.5 seconds with a power output of up to 320 kW. During boosting, i.e. when the driver has activated the S driving mode and kicks down the accelerator pedal to spark all three electric motors into action, the power can even temporarily surge up to 370 kW. The torque delivered by the electric motor packs a punch and is converted with utmost efficiency for an exhilarating driving experience on the road. What’s more, quattro drive makes the Audi e-tron Sportback concept even more efficient thanks to energy recuperation.
A new era of light
In the field of lighting technology, the Audi e-tron Sportback concept is a true visionary across all models. Light should always ensure greater safety. Yet in today’s world of mobility, it has a great many more tasks than perfectly illuminating the road ahead. It is becoming a means of communication between cars and the world around them. And between cars and their drivers. The Audi e-tron Sportback concept is fitted with a wealth of complex functions geared to meeting that very goal. Visibility and interaction with the surroundings are being taken to innovative new heights with the help of light. For instance, its high-resolution Digital Matrix Light (1.3 million pixels) allows signals, animations and warnings within close proximity of the vehicle to be projected onto the road surface. These illuminated signs are generated by two large light fields, each comprising around 250 LEDs, situated to the left and right below the Singleframe’s daytime running lights. LEDs are also used in the generously proportioned rear light clusters. The light strip set off by aluminum edging accentuates the broad look and feel, adding a touch of dynamism. Lighting elements in the outer areas that almost appear to float complement the tail lights with the addition of the typical e-tron signature. Indicators signaling from the inside outward are also a feature both front and rear. The Digital Matrix Light can amplify the signal effect—for example, in the event of an emergency braking maneuver. So the Audi e-tron Sportback concept is not just a visionary when it comes to lighting, but also lights the way with electrifyingly innovative technology.