Audi is building head-turning concept cars to show the different facets of its ongoing electric car offensive. The E-Tron GT unveiled in late 2018 previews a battery-powered high-performance sedan. The Q4 E-Tron introduced at the 2019 Geneva Auto Show takes the form of a family-friendly, zero-emissions crossover. And the German firm has now released a trio of teaser images to give us an early look at a third design study named AI:me that will explore what a high-tech, autonomous city car powered by electricity could look like.
The sketches reveal the AI:me shares only a hexagonal grille and sharp, swept-back headlights with current members of the Audi family. Designers pushed the wheels out as far as possible, which gives the model short overhangs and a wheelbase that’s unusually long for a compact car. These proportions clear up a generous amount of space for people and gear. While the AI:me’s tall, boxy silhouette is not rooted in Audi’s current model lineup, it’s slightly reminiscent of the A2 sold in Europe between 1999 and 2005.
An image showing the concept’s interior raises more questions than it answers. It suggests the AI:me doesn’t drive itself 100 percent of the time; it’s still fitted with a steering wheel, but it looks like drivers can push it into the dashboard when they want to become passengers. Touch-sensitive surfaces replace a vast majority of the buttons and stalks commonly found inside a car, and a full-width display replaces both the instrument cluster and the screen that displays the infotainment system. The AI:me seemingly takes Audi’s tech-savvy interiors to a new level.
The concept’s name is enigmatic, too. AI most likely stands for artificial intelligence, but Audi hasn’t detailed what its next design study is capable of. Similarly, your guess about what’s under the sheet metal is as good as ours. The company only confirmed that, as the E-Tron emblem on the rear bumper indicates, the AI:me is electric.
The Audi AI:me concept will make its public debut on April 15 during the biennial Shanghai Auto Show. The company’s choice of venue makes sense; China is precisely the kind of market in which the car — assuming it reaches production — would do well. What the future holds for the concept is up in the air at this point, but we’ll learn more about it in the coming weeks.