Car News

Audi Activesphere is a Sleek EV Pickup Concept

Audi has just revealed the fourth in its series of "Sphere" concept cars, designed to showcase design and innovation from the German brand. The automaker calls the Activesphere concept "a four-door crossover coupé with an astonishingly versatile body design." We call it a sort of Audi El Camino (remember those?), but it's really an electric crossover with a pickup truck bed and a built-in bed topper.

There is one Sphere concept for each of the four rings in the Audi emblem, including the Skysphere roadster, Grandsphere sedan, and the Urbansphere MPV. Audi got the ball rolling when it debuted the first concept back in August 2021.

Each concept shows a different look at Audi's design and future products, though the company told us during the Activesphere's reveal that the Grandsphere was the closest to production. That one is what its future luxury sedan models will look like.

Activesphere is a rugged-looking off-roader, though like the other Sphere concepts, it is highly streamlined. This is a big car, just under five metres, and with a wheelbase of just under three metres to maximize interior space.

Massive wheel arches hold 22-inch wheels and tall 285/55 tires. The concept-ready rubber gives the Activesphere a very aggressive stance, one that we'd love to see in production.

Audi calls it an "active Sportback," taking part of the name it uses on its hatchbacks and the crossovers it gives a more coupe-like roofline. The "active" part refers to the extra cladding the model gets, much like Audi's production Allroad lifted wagons.

It's the rear view, though, not the roofline, that has us the most intrigued about the Activesphere concept. The rear glass slides upward over the glass roof to reveal a hard-sided storage compartment. The lower part of the hatch folds down, giving the Activesphere a small pickup bed. Audi calls it "pickup on demand." Roof racks built into the roof glass help add storage on top of the vehicle and include an integrated ski holder.

This is more than just a pickup concept, it is also loaded with interior technology ideas from the future. The most notable is integrated virtual reality projection and advanced gesture controls that allow the driver and front passenger to use virtual dials and knobs instead of physical ones to control the car. Though the system requires a special headset (glasses), it also provides augmented reality navigation and can be worn outside of the vehicle to help navigate trails and other outdoor pursuits.

Audi says this allows more freedom of interior design. When the controls come to you on demand, designers don't need to build them into the dashboard. Instead, they can add features like allowing the entire dash to function as a soundbar. The steering wheel and pedals disappear into the dash when the vehicle enters autonomous driving mode.

Underneath all of this concept car magic is Audi's PPE EV platform. The Activesphere was designed around this, meaning that something vaguely resembling the Activesphere could see production. Audi says there is room for 100 kWh of battery energy and the driveline for the concept produces 436 hp.

We don't expect to see the VR tech or self-driving on the road anytime soon. But an Audi off-roader with luxury and utility - plus room for a couple of mountain bikes? That's something that could end up on the road in the coming years.