Audi Grand Sphere concept to preview luxury A8 successor
13 July 2021 - autocar
Ingolstadt firm will preview high-tech 'Landjet' machine, due in 2025, at Munich motor show
Audi has signed off the design of the high-tech Project Artemis electric car that will arrive in 2024 as the firm’s new flagship – and will preview it with a concept at the Munich motor show in September.
The Grand Sphere will be one of three show cars that the German brand will produce in the next year to showcase its approach to vehicles equipped with level-four autonomous driving systems (allowing for unsupervised self-driving in certain conditions). The production version will succeed the A8 saloon as Audi’s luxury flagship. It is due to be revealed in 2024, before going on sale early the following year.
Audi design chief Marc Lichte told Autocar that the Grand Sphere will be “a very concrete teaser of the Artemis project” that will showcase “a new revolution in design” with a focus on interior space. He said: “I asked our design teams not for their vision of an A8 successor but for something completely new. [Sales] volumes for three-box saloons such as the A8, BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class are going down, and there are new, more attractive bodystyles.
“Honestly, I think the S-Class has been a lot more successful than our A8, so we have to come up with something completely new to attack the S-Class. This is the result.”
Artemis EV design nearing completion
Initially run as a stand-alone business but recently taken fully in-house, Project Artemis is tasked with developing new platforms and software to underpin a new generation of fully electric, autonomous- ready Audi models.
These will introduce the next major technology step after the latest Audi EVs, such as the E-tron GT and Q4 E-tron.
Project Artemis was charged with developing a long-range grand tourer that would benefit from those autonomous systems, which will initially be available only on a limited number of roads installed with the necessary infrastructure.
The Project Artemis production car, developed under the codename Landjet, was conceived as a successor to the A8 and will serve as a rival to the new Mercedes-Benz EQS electric luxury limousine. The Landjet name is understood to reference the focus on the interior offering 'first-class' luxury similar to a private jet.
Audi considered using the A9 name but has now decided to introduce a new naming convention, due to the new car’s radical differences from traditional saloons and SUVs.
The Landjet will be the first Volkswagen Group model to use the advanced new SSP architecture, which combines elements from the mainstream MEB and performance-focused PPE EV platforms. It will also use an advanced new VW.OS software package developed by Cariad, the Volkswagen Group’s in-house software arm.
t will be one of the first cars to utilise the Volkswagen Group’s unified-cell battery technology, enabling it to offer a range of around 600km (373 miles) on the WLTP test cycle. The Landjet is likely to use an 800V electrical architecture so that it can accept charging rates of up to 350kW from ultra-rapid devices.
Audi has yet to give any further details on the car’s performance or power output.
As with the related Volkswagen Trinity concept, its advanced software will be twinned with a number of sensors and connectivity features to enable advanced autonomous driving.
From its beginning early last year, Project Artemis was run by Alex Hitzinger, a former boss of Porsche’s motorsport programme, but Audi technology chief Oliver Hoffmann assumed control when it was brought in-house.
That move followed reports that Volkswagen Group bosses had concerns about the progress of the project, including that the team was pursuing too many ideas unsuitable for mass production.