With the shift from internal combustion engines to electrification and the journey to automated and autonomous vehicles, we are in the most transformative moment in automotive history. Audi was one of the early adopters of new technology, and as engineering developed, so did design. Rather than create a radically different design for the e-tron’s initial EV offering, Audi opted for a more traditional style that creates a bridge between the past and the future, but that’s only the first step.
We sat down with Oliver Hoffmann, Audi’s chief development officer, and head of design Marc Lichte at Audi’s Malibu, California, Design Loft to hear their thoughts on Audi’s next steps.
As Lichte points out, having design studios in California and Beijing allows designers to draw inspiration from Audi’s most important markets. There is a different sensibility regarding each, but appearances should remain distinctly Audi. As he explains, “A bottle of Coke can be recognized anywhere in the world, but tastes slightly different depending on the region.”
With the advent of the EV architectural “skateboard” chassis, designers have new freedom with fewer of the constraints found with internal combustion drivelines. That’s not to say the battle between designers and engineers is a thing of the past. Hoffman quipped that there is still discussion on the millimeter scale, usually regarding vehicle height.
Design technology is also evolving. Upon entering the Malibu Design Loft, there is no smell of clay or marker. Everything is now digital and incorporates 3D VR modeling for smoother and more efficient workflows spanning continents. As a result, Audi has created the concept on the fly.
Reinventing the SUV?
Audi christened Design Loft last year with the launch of the Skysphere variable-wheelbase concept. The nomenclature “ball” refers to interior spaces, which have priority over exterior styles initially. China responded with the Urbansphere minivan, which gives us a glimpse of how automated driving will affect the interior as drivers will be relieved of driving duties.
Next up is the upcoming Activesphere concept, which Lichte says will integrate automated driving and represent the next big step in Audi’s design direction. He hinted that even the definition of an SUV would expand as vehicles would reduce ride height to maximize aerodynamic efficiency.
His enthusiasm for the next concept is clear, and we are indeed pleased to see how Audi is adapting and evolving to this changing landscape. One thing is for sure: the future will look very different.
This content is imported from OpenWeb. You may be able to find the same content in other formats, or you may be able to find more information, on their website.