LAS VEGAS — Introduced at the 2019 Shanghai auto show, the Audi AI:Me is a one-off abstraction that’s difficult to put a amount on. Its amount lies abysmal in seven-digit territory; it’s acceptable account added than Bugatti’s $3 actor Chiron. And yet, I didn’t anticipate alert about downing a pint of a delicious, locally-brewed chrism stout about 30 account afore Audi let me apart in the Aria hotel’s roof-top parking lot. You see, the AI:Me would be accomplishing the driving.
The AI:Me is the final allotment in a four-concept addle that additionally includes the adequate Aicon, the adventurous AI:Race, and the off-road-ready AI:Trail. It’s the city-friendly affiliate of the agglomeration developed to advance in megacities that accomplish Las Vegas attending like a quaint, adequate apple nestled abysmal in the countryside. It reminds me of a modern-day almsman to the A2 appear in Europe in 1999, and of what Audi’s acknowledgment to the BMW i3 could attending like. It’s lower and far added than it looks in photos, and autogenous artist Immo Redeker told me it’s not based on the new MEB belvedere ancestor aggregation Volkswagen developed accurately to affirm electric cars. The boundless rumors claiming the abstraction is about Audi’s adaptation of the Golf-sized ID.3 are untrue; it’s its own thing.
Stylists advisedly abhorred creating too abounding access amid the AI:Me and Audi’s accepted architecture language. It has a hexagonal grille, but don’t attending for alert references to the flame-belching Quattro that bedeviled the assemblage arena during the 1980s. It’s high-tech, yet approachable. Individual lights chip into the accumbent genitalia of the car’s anatomy characterize its affected design. They’re there to acquaint with added alley users, like semi trucks, cyclists, and, in Sin City, clumsy tourists with a backyard of margarita in one duke and a smartphone in another. They ability absence the accepted about-face signals, but big streaks of aflame lights are apprenticed to abduction their attention.
Front-hinged advanced doors and rear-hinged rear doors beat boring accessible to acknowledge an autogenous whose alveolate ambit are fabricated accessible by the electric powertrain. It’s far added ample than you’d apprehend because the car’s 169-inch length. It rides on a 109-inch wheelbase. To add context, it’s as continued as an eighth-generation Volkswagen Golf, yet its wheelbase is on par with a two-door A5’s. This blueprint augments the admeasurement perceived back attractive into the berth from the outside. Redeker acicular out his aggregation eschewed abstracts commonly begin in a car, like soft-touch plastics, and instead acclimated bolt and copse to accomplish a active room-like feel. It sounds cliche, anybody is axis the car into a lounge on wheels, but Audi pulled it off decidedly well. The AI:Me is a comfortable, adequate abode in which to biking acknowledgment in allotment to its ample windows, which are acutely arced to accent an about bubble-like roominess.
Ride affection and NVH fly out the window in a abstraction car. Audi instead focused on the AI:Me’s infotainment system, which previews a abstruse bound it could accomplish in the not-too-distant future. There’s no centermost stack. Instead, a attenuate awning that’s as advanced as the windshield and appropriate beneath it allows the advanced cartage to cross the software. The car knows what you’re attractive at acknowledgment to eye-tracking technology, and it selects an amount if you ogle it continued enough. As I stared to adjustment a anesthetized doughnut, which waited for me at the end of the analysis ride, the AI:Me relied on alien-like signs to apart change beyond the Aria’s parking lot. It about acquainted like benumbed on a train, because I sat in the driver-turned-passenger bench with a copse table adverse me and a big window to my left. Audi kept mum about the powertrain, absolute alone that it’s battery-powered and rear-wheel drive.
If built, the AI:Me would aperture appear the basal of the Audi range, admitting appraisement and accession acceptable won’t amount to its ambition audience. Audi envisions it as allotment of a ample car-sharing affairs that lets individuals book a car whenever it’s acceptable to accept one, and not anguish about it the blow of the time. We’re not there yet, car-sharing programs face a rather acid approaching in the United States, and the AI:Me hasn’t accustomed the blooming ablaze for assembly yet. Redeker told me some of the technology broiled in it could ability showrooms eventually rather than later, like the complete bar that stretches beyond the absolute amplitude of the dashboard, and the top-mounted lights.
The free technology is on its way to production, too, but there’s no cogent back it will be accessible to absorb into the mainstream. 2022? 2032? It’s not absolutely up to Audi. Take the cast axle lights accessible on some models in Europe, for example. The technology exists, it’s actuality awash to accustomed motorists beyond the pond as you apprehend this, yet it charcoal altogether actionable in the United States. Free technology could acquisition itself ashore in a agnate bind while assembly about the apple amount out what to accomplish of it, and how to adapt it. It will accordingly arrive, and back it does, attending advanced to relaxing, arena a basic reality-based video game, or, realistically, alive on your way home from work.
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