Update: ‘Level 3 and 4 autonomous driving capability’ section updated and ‘Audi to focus on luxury models’ section added.
The Audi Grandsphere concept, the precursor to the highly anticipated Audi Landjet model (the first product from Audi Artemis), officially came out in September 2021. The private jet on four wheels made its public debut at the 2021 Munich Motor Show (IAA 2021) that opened on September 6, 2021.
The Audi Grandsphere is a low-slung, highly aerodynamic, avant-garde sedan. It’s no ordinary sedan by any means, though. It blends characteristics of a grand tourer and a shooting brake as well. And interestingly, it’s almost impossible to figure that out if you’re looking at it from the front three quarters. The designers have discretely packaged the dramatic proportions at the back.
Video Source: YouTube/Audi
The Audi Grandsphere concept has a striking appearance at the front with the concave hexagonal Singleframe and the narrow headlights that look like focused eyes. On the sides, the chief design element is the dynamically sloping arc of the roofline akin to Audi Sportback models. Also worth noting are the 23-inch wheels inspired by the Audi Avus from the 1990s. As for the rear, the boat tail looks like a piece of art in itself.
The talking point of the Audi Grandsphere is its futuristic interior. In fact, getting the interior right was so important in this case that Audi designed the concept from the inside out. The company is reimagining the interior of its cars with the trio of sphere concepts (Skysphere, Grandsphere, and Urbansphere) for the future when autonomous driving will be the new normal.
With reversed rear doors and no B-pillars, the Grandsphere concept gives a grand welcome to its occupants, and in no time, the sense of spaciousness, opulence, and future forwardness starts reeling in. The 2+2 seater provides the most attractions for the passengers in the front seats, not in the rear seats like traditional sedans. It’s ready for Level 4 autonomous driving, on enabling which the steering wheel and pedals disappear. There’s no traditional dashboard either, and effectively, the car becomes a spacious first-class lounge.
Platform & Specifications
Getting to numbers, the Audi Grandsphere concept measures 5.35 m (17.6 ft.) long, 2m (6.6 ft.) wide, and 1.39 m (4.6 ft.) high. This means that we’re looking at a full-size luxury car, one that is significantly longer than even the Mercedes EQS. The concept has an extremely long wheelbase of 3.19 m (10.5 ft.).
The Audi Grandsphere sits on the Audi-Porsche co-developed PPE platform. A five-link axle at the front and multi-link axle at the rear – both aluminum-made – connect its wheels. A rear-axle steering system is present to shorten the wheelbase virtually. The concept has an active air suspension system that can separately pull up or push down on each wheel and makes the required adjustments proactively as per the data it gets from the front camera.
The concept has two electric motors, one on the front axle and the other on the rear, generating 530 kW of combined power and 960 Nm of combined torque. Feeding these high-output motors is a 120 kWh battery pack that can provide a range of more than 750 km (466 miles) when driving efficiently. This would be in the ballpark of the Mercedes EQS sedan which does 770 km (478 miles) in the WLTP metric.
The system voltage is double the norm – 800 volts, so rapid or ultra-fast charging is possible. The maximum DC charging rate is 270 kW, and it allows charging from 5 to 80% in less than 25 minutes. Just ten minutes of charging can provide a range of more than 300 km (186 miles).
The Audi Landjet should be a revolutionary product at Audi, and that’s exactly how Marc Lichte, Head of Design, Audi, described it while speaking to caranddriver.com in December 2020.
At Volkswagen Group’s Power Day event in March 2021, Markus Duesmann, CEO, Audi, had hinted that the development of the production version of the Audi Landjet concept (the Audi Grandsphere) will begin shortly.
After almost nine months, we have now reached an important project milestone and successfully completed the concept phase for the first model based on the Artemis. We are now starting serial development of this project.Markus Duesmann, CEO, Audi (Volkswagen Group Power Day)
Neither an ‘A’ nor a ‘Q’ model
In an interview with Wirtschafts Woche in January 2021, Duesmann discussed the branding of the Landjet. He said that “the first from the new Artemis e-car business unit,” internally called Audi Landjet, will belong to a “new vehicle category.” It will be neither a large sedan positioned above the Audi A8 (and thus not an Audi A9) nor a large SUV positioned above the Audi Q7. It’s not an “A or Q” series car, Duesmann confirmed.
According to a report from Autocar, Audi had considered releasing the flagship model as the ‘Audi A9.’ However, now it has decided on a new nomenclature.
While all developments so far indicate an unconventional design for the Audi Landjet, some things are likely to be traditional. For instance, the front-end of the car will likely feature a Singleframe grille. The Singleframe is a signature design element of Audi, and the company isn’t ready yet to let it go even though EVs don’t need large grilles as such.
The German automaker has said that the Singleframe grille will appear on even self-driving Audi models, MotorTrend reported on July 19, 2021. The large front grille is as crucial to aesthetics as functionality, perhaps even more so in the EV era where designs are changing drastically with the flexibility that electric powertrains provide. It will continue being a part of the “electric face,” as the company’s designers refer to the front-end of Audi EVs.
Norbert Weber, head of Interior Design, Audi, has suggested that the company will use alternative interior materials that are easy on both environment and animals in its upcoming EVs. Speaking to CarBuzz, he said that the company is developing vegan materials and considering surrogate leather. Soon, Audi models will have new materials, textures, and fabrics, the design chief added.
A mix of PPE and SSP
Volkswagen Group’s New Auto strategy announcement, Duesmann confirmed the usage of a unified battery cell format as well as the mixed usage of PPE and SSP elements on the Artemis project.
With the Audi Artemis model, we will be spearheading major modules of the SSP starting in 2025. It symbolizes the transition from the PPE platform to the SSP. And with E3 2.0 and the new unified battery cell format, it already brings an important part of the SSP into serious production from 2026 onwards.Markus Duesmann, CEO, Audi (Volkswagen Group New Auto strategy)
Duesmann indicated at Volkswagen Group’s Power Day event that the Audi Landjet will debut the parent company’s unified battery cell format, which offers the best conditions for the eventual transition to solid-state battery technology. He said:
The model (Artemis) will play a key role in its respective model series. Among other things, it will be the spearhead of our electronic platform. This first model based on Artemis will also be the first one to use a new unified battery cell format.Markus Duesmann, CEO, Audi (Volkswagen Group Power Day)
At the Audi Annual Media Conference 2022 on March 17, 2022, Oliver Hoffmann, the company’s R&D head, briefly touched on this subject. He reaffirmed that the Audi Artemis model will be Volkswagen Group’s first EV to feature battery cells built with unified technology.
In the Group we also opted for a streamlined, harmonized cell technology and the Artemis project, which customers will see in 2025, this harmonized cell format will be applied for the first time in a Group vehicle. Audi has a pioneering role in that, and it also ties in with this unified technology in terms of achieving a volume effect as well.Oliver Hoffmann, BoM member – Technical Development, Audi (Audi Annual Media Conference 2022 on March 17, 2022)
By 2030, the SSP will cover a bigger volume than the PPE and the MEB put together. Volkswagen Group wants to sell more than 40 million vehicles based on the SSP over the lifetime. Duesmann said at the New Auto strategy announcement event that the rollout of the new mechatronics platform and the related reduction in complexity will be faster than ever before.
Dedicated charging network
Audi is working on a dedicated fast-charging network as well while developing the Landjet, as per a report from spiegel.de. By the time it launches the Landjet, it would have an infrastructure similar to Tesla Supercharger that is exclusive to the brand. Porsche customers will also be allowed to charge at these fast-charging stations eventually. Charging EVs at 350 kW or even higher peak charging power should be possible here.
New vehicle software architecture
The Audi Artemis will debut a new-generation vehicle software architecture called E³ 2.0, and CARIAD will be responsible for the development of the same. Dirk Hilgenberg, CEO, CARIAD, announced this development at Volkswagen Group’s New Auto strategy announcement event. He said:
We will integrate our stack 2.0 in Audi’s Artemis project for the first time in 2025.Dirk Hilgenberg, CEO, CARIAD (Volkswagen Group New Auto strategy)
With CARIAD, we are fully committed to developing the leading automotive software stack in the industry. We are moving towards a synergetic business model. Most of the software-related R&D costs of the brand have been shifted to CARIAD, which will be reported as a standalone entity in the future. The CARIAD business model foresees a significant upfront investment phase of about 2 to 2.5 billion Euros per year. In the income phase, CARIAD will receive licensable fees paid by the brands or paid by potential third parties for the software use. This already started with the rollout of the ID family architecture.Arno Antlitz, CFO, Volkswagen Group (Volkswagen Group New Auto strategy)
Duesmann talked about the benefits of the E³ 2.0 software architecture at the New Auto strategy announcement event. He said:
When it comes to the advantages and performance of the SSP, E3 2.0 is probably the best example. Especially E³ 2.0 as one of the high-value modules will be the enabler for a growing portfolio of software services. Through this electronic architecture, we will be able to provide new functionalities quickly and efficiently to our customers across the group and we will realize significant economies of scale.Markus Duesmann, CEO, Audi (Volkswagen Group New Auto strategy)
Level 3 and 4 autonomous driving capability
VW and Bosch have joined hands to develop the software required to build Level 2+ and Level 3 autonomous driving capabilities for VW Group’s future cars, such as the Artemis project, according to an Automotive News report dated January 26, 2022. Bosch will get the marketing rights in the agreement, and VW will use Bosch’s AOS operating system for autonomous driving.
Cariad boss Dirk Hilgenberg told journalists on January 25, 2022, that the Bosch-VW partnership will help Audi catch up with the Artemis Project, which has been pushed to 2025. Hilgenberg said that even though the brands will start work on Level 2+ and Level 3 technologies, the Artemis will also be Level 4 ready.
Level 2+ and Level 3 autonomous driving require considerable driver intervention and are not fully autonomous. However, Level 4 autonomous driving is a ‘High Automation’ level, where systems do not require inputs from the driver but their functions are limited to some areas—such as in a parking lot or on highways. The driver needs to take control when the vehicle leaves the defined areas, like when it drives into town.
Germany’s federal cabinet recently passed the draft for fully autonomous driving, which would serve as the model for other EU countries. The Audi Landjet will be technically ready for Level 4 autonomous driving. In Level 4 on the highway, the driver would “no longer need to operate the car,” and so, he/she would “no longer have to be able to reach the steering wheel and the touchscreens” with hands all the time,” Lichte said.
Volkswagen Group has allocated the Audi Artemis project production to Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles’ Hannover plant. The German factory will produce a slew of BEVs in the future, including the reborn microbus – the VW ID. Buzz.
Hannover would entirely change with the ID. Buzz. Launched next year, we are entering the BEV world. The most interesting German premium car, the Artemis, will be built in Hannover as well. In addition, we are expanding our body manufacturing for a new model of Bentley. With the MOIA shuttles and the ID. Buzz AD, this site will be spearheading autonomous driving. Hannover will be a technology driver for the entire group.Dr. Herbert Diess, CEO, Volkswagen Group (Supervisory Board meeting on December 9, 2021)
Citing Duesmann, an automobilwoche.de report said that Audi plans to unveil the final production Landjet project in 2024 but won’t launch the flagship EV in the market before 2025. The Artemis project was reportedly running behind schedule in February 2021. The German media reported that the Artemis team was quite ambitious about the design, perhaps more than Audi would have liked, as they constantly pitched ideas and requests that were not feasible for the mass production.
Audi electric car production in the U.S.
Audi models could roll out of an American factory in the future, Duesmann told Bloomberg in August 2021. The ongoing transition to EVs has made producing Audi models stateside likely. It’s early to speculate about the possibility of the Landjet rolling out of an American facility, though.
Discussions on a possible production in the U.S. are ongoing but we don’t know at the moment what result will be. But we do have factories where we produce platforms that Audi also uses. So, with the platforms I said earlier (MEB, PPE, and SSP), which we will certainly produce all over the world, the potential to put an Audi car, production-wise, into the U.S. is even higher now. So, it is an important point. U.S. market (is) super-important for us, the customers are super-important for us, and the likelihood of us producing in the U.S. is there, yes.Markus Duesmann, CEO, Audi
Audi to focus on luxury models
Audi confirmed a few weeks ago that there would be no successor to the Q2, and the carmaker is not going ahead with developing a new A1. Earlier this year, Duesmann told German business newspaper Handelsblatt that the VW Group has redefined the roles of its brands, and Audi has been realigned as a premium carmaker. As such, Audi is limiting its model range downward while expanding upward with cars like the Artemis and Apollon.
Audi Landjet FAQs
What is the Audi Landjet release date?
2025 is the much-awaited Landjet release date, which will ride on the PPE Platform with SSP modules.
What will be the Audi Landjet alternatives?
The Audi Landjet is expected as a sleek alternative to cars like the Lucid Air, Tesla Model S, and the Mercedes EQS.
Featured Image Source: Audi