Audi has lifted the roof off its radical Urban Concept to create a rakish spyder — the week after the hard-top version was scooped during filming in Berlin.
The spyder will add an extra edge of wind-in-the-hair motoring to the two-seat electric city car. Both versions will be shown on Audi’s stand at the Frankfurt motor show next month to gauge public reaction to the idea of such a radically different means of transport.
Built around a carbonfibre monocoque, it seats two people, with the driver positioned slightly ahead of the passenger. Autocar’s sources report that drive comes from a pair of electric motors and a battery pack.
Even though the concept is a month from its Frankfurt launch, the elaborately disguised machine — despite the Audi badge on the nose being clearly visible — was being filmed last week on Berlin’s busy Potsdamer Platz in full view of the public.
If Audi is testing the market with an electric urban vehicle, it will be part of a growing trend. BMW has already revealed that it will launch an electrically powered scooter and join a booming market for urban mobility that is predicted to reach 30 million units of electric and internal combustion-engined scooters annually by the middle of decade. Vehicles such as Renault’s roofed four-wheel Twizy electric scooter are also predicted to become a success in the West because of their suitability for urban commuting and their low price compared with conventional battery-powered cars.
Audi and VW, however, appear to be forging separate paths and this proposal is not related to VW’s recent XLR 1 concept, which uses a similar construction method and interior layout.
The VW Group has long experimented with highly efficient two-seaters, notably the 1-litre (2002) and L1 (2009) concepts, which used diesel and diesel hybrid drivetrains. VW also showed the three-wheeled GX3 concept in 2009, which used motorcycle technology.
German manufacturers have an illustrious history of tiny ‘bubble cars’, which used basic motorcycle tech and enclosed cabins to get their nation back on the road after World War 2.
There is said to be an outside chance that Audi may revive its NSU badge — once a big motorcycle brand — for a new range of urban commuting vehicles.