Audi is completing its quartet of visionary vehicles and will be at IAA 2019 to showcase an electric off-roader for the future of road transport: the Audi AI:Trail quattro, a comprehensive concept for sustainable mobility off the beaten track. The four-seater concept combines the capacity for automated driving with superb off-road capabilities. The glass surrounding the cabin extends all the way to ground level, providing unrivaled all-round visibility. The ample battery capacity ensures sufficient range even away from dense networks of charging stations.
The “Trail” part of the name evokes the idea of exploring nature. That is why there are no big screens on board for streaming TV series or videoconferencing; instead, broad glass surfaces provide a clear view of the surroundings. This is how Marc Lichte, Audi’s Head of Design, describes the use case: “With this concept, we are showing an off-road concept with an emissions-free electric drive for an innovative driving experience away from paved roads. Consistent with this, we designed a monolithic basic vehicle body with maximum glazing to create an intense connection to the surroundings. A concept for sustainable mobility on demand.” With an exterior length of 4.15 meters (13.5 ft) and a width of 2.15 meters (7.05 ft), the brawny Audi AI:Trail’s potential away from paved roads is immediately apparent. The roof height of 1.67 meters (5.5 ft) and the enormous 22-inch wheels with 850 mm (33.5 in) tires hint at the vehicle’s excellent off-road capabilities even when it is standing still.
With a ground clearance of an impressive 34 centimeters (13.4 in), it can ford through water more than half a meter (1.6 ft) deep. On rough, rocky terrain, this architecture provides plenty of agility without the battery unit integrated in the floor coming into contact with the ground. The cabin itself is an extensively glazed space surrounded by polygonal shapes, with room for up to four people. One characteristic feature—and one that indicates the vehicle’s kinship with Aicon and AI:ME—is the protruding ridge halfway up the side windows. This line continues to both the front and rear and acts as a waistline uniting the entire body in one monolithic whole. With the electric drive system arranged around the axles and the battery in the floor, there is no need for overhanging sections or separate attachments for the motor or batteries. Something else that the four visionary Audi vehicles at IAA 2019 will be demonstrating is that the one-box design is becoming the gold standard for the age of the electric vehicle.
In the interior, the side window ridges give passengers space where they objectively need it the most—around their shoulders and elbows. They also provide extra space where they subjectively perceive it most acutely, as the way in which the side windows extend down low opens up a clear down to the ground, even between the wheels. The aim of the designers here was to give those inside the vehicle the best possible view of nature and their surroundings, breaking the boundaries between the interior and the world outside. When the car is moving, the occupants’ gaze is not merely focused on the terrain ahead but is free to wander and happen upon little details in the open spaces around them. In the AI:Trail, passengers can relax and enjoy the tranquility of the ride without even having to think about it.