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Frankfurt show: More pics of Audi Urban Concept EV

Countdown to Frankfurt debut of Audi’s Urban Concept hots up with raft of new images

29 Aug 2011

MORE images of Audi’s quirky buggy-like Urban Concept EV have emerged in the countdown to its official debut at the Frankfurt motor show on September 13.

Audi has issued dozens of three-dimensional renderings – but no further details – depicting in detail the exterior and interior of Sportback and open-roof Spyder variants of its open-wheeled “ultra-light car for congested urban spaces”.

However, the official images still more closely represent the vehicle revealed in sketches so far this month than the heavily-disguised one that became an internet phenomenon after it was spotted in filming for a teaser video at Berlin’s busy Potsdamer Platz, as GoAuto reported on August 10.

In contrast to the low-slung, tall-wheeled vehicle in images published by Audi, the Berlin car had a shorter, more steeply-angled nose with front-mounted headlights flanking the Audi logo rather than the sleek back-swept units shown in the images.

It also rode higher on small wheels fitted with the type of mudguards traditionally fitted to sportscars like Caterhams and the Ariel Atom rather than being almost entirely enclosed by fairings described by Audi as featuring “blinking strips of LED lights”.

7 center imageThe detailed interior shots show the rectangular multi-function steering wheel to feature paddle-shifter-style indicator switches, gear selector buttons, audio controls and twin thumb-wheels for accessing various modes and menus on the combined instrument and navigation display.

A small and simple ventilation control unit with concentric temperature and fan-speed dials protrudes from the dashboard, while controls to alter the distance of the pedals and steering wheel to the fixed seat are located on the sill beside the driver’s knee.

On the Spyder, the pedal and steering wheel adjustment controls are accompanied by buttons to open and close the doors – the Sportback is apparently accessed by sliding the roof backwards like a jet-fighter, although Audi says access is gained through the “tailgate”.

The driver’s seat has a gap between the thigh supports, which would make entering and exiting the vehicle via the opened roof easier as it necessitates negotiating a high sill.

The concept’s occupants sit in a staggered formation, secured by seatbelts that pass through apertures in the seatbacks and fasten the opposite way to a conventional car – presumably because there is no room for outboard-mounted inertia-reel mechanisms.

Audi said the concept is propelled by two “e-tron electric motors” that take power from lithium-ion batteries. They appear from images to drive the rear wheels.

Audi describes the vehicle’s exposed suspension as “elaborate” and its performance “sporty”, thanks to its development being “solely oriented on the strict principles of lightweight construction, efficiency and reduction”, exemplified by the cockpit, which integrates the fixed seat bases, being formed from carbon-fibre.

The Ingolstadt-based brand said this results in “a concept car with no unnecessary weight, and one that concentrates on the pure essence of sporty motion”.

UK magazine Autocar reports the car is 3200mm long, 1700mm wide and 1200mm high and that its 15kW brushless motor can propel the sub-500kg car from 0-60km/h in 6.3 seconds (on the way to a limited 100km/h top speed) with a battery range of up to 60km.

The Urban Concept is the strongest signal yet that Audi is intent on entering the sustainable mobility market like its German rivals BMW and Daimler, which have respectively announced the launch of i-brand models and third-generation Smart ForTwo EV in recent weeks.

However, French brand Renault continues to lead the way with vehicles of this type and is already taking deposits for its electric Twizy scooter-car.

Renault’s alliance partner Nissan is also working on an electric city-car thought to be based on the 2009 Land Glider concept that leans into corners like a four-wheeled motorcycle.

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