The Audi AI:TRAIL — Audi concept car 2019 and the great outdoors rolled into one

Audi is presenting its concept car Audi AI:Trail at the IAA 2019. The car combines futuristic design with autonomous driving, electric mobility — and a special connection to nature. Join us for a four-wheeled walk through the forest.

09/10/2019 Reading Time: 3 min

Nighttime in a dark, Scandinavian forest. It is silent; only a quiet rustling in can be heard from time to time in the undergrowth. Suddenly, a quiet hum vibrates the air, and glowing dots appear between the trees. Fireflies? The points of light come closer, the noise gets louder. Those aren’t fireflies — they’re drones! And a car follows behind them: it’s the Audi AI:TRAIL.

Drones in the night — the AI:Trail and its glowing companions

As the Audi AI:TRAIL stops at a small clearing, the five drones reconfigure themselves. Gathered together at the door of the AI:TRAIL, they form a bright spotlight and light the way for Oliver Keyerleber to step out of the car. The Design Project Manager for Concept Cars at Audi is on the road in Sweden for a photo shoot with the electric car. The drones, which work both as lighting and cameras, make the Audi AI:TRAIL fully visible in the dark forest for the first time.

Exterior view of the AI:Trail
The Audi concept car AI:TRAIL was presented at the IAA 2019.

Panorama view and protection — a car with a helicopter cabin

The first thing you notice is the car’s body, whose shape is reminiscent of a diamond and which is made entirely of glass. Like a helicopter cabin, it gives the passengers a panorama view of the surrounding nature — be it a Scandinavian forest like we have now, a desert sandscape, or a rustically romantic canyon. Keyerleber says that this maximized transparency should give passengers a close connection to the outside world — while still allowing them to feel protected from its dangers. It’s perfect for off-road use — in fact, that’s what the entire design concept is based on.

The color of the AI:TRAIL should be (fittingly) reminiscent of the north European wilderness — the unique silvery light of Scandinavia and the blue shading of the northern seas. But, with a length of 4.15 meters and a height of 1.67 meters, the concept car is relatively compact.

The Audi AI:TRAIL’s singleframe grille serves as more than just a brand element that ties the 2019 concept car with the brand’s previous cars. The singleframe also serves to tie the exterior to the interior of the electric car.

Outdoor experience and environment

“We want to get around quietly and without emissions — to protect the environment.”

Oliver Keyerleber, Design Project Management Showcar at Audi

It’s easy to see that the Audi concept car is designed for use on rough terrain — the quattro drive has become a design element. Eye-catching tires with visible technical elements give the car a good grip on the damp forest floor. They provide the link between the quattro drive and the car’s body. Keyerleber explains: “The low center of gravity — created by placing the battery in the underbody and using four electric motors — shows off the quattro of the future. We want to get around quietly and without emissions — to protect the environment.”

The driver can choose autonomous driving level 3 (on forest roads) or 4 (on paved streets). On rough terrain, though, the driver still needs to drive. “This lets drivers either concentrate on nature with all of their senses, or enjoy a special blend of the feeling behind the wheel and the outdoor experience — in the truest sense of the word.

The interior of the Audi AI:TRAIL
The Audi AI:TRAIL displays its close connection to nature in the interior as well.

Through nature in a hanging chair — the inner life of the AI:TRAIL

The interior of the Audi AI:TRAIL already made waves at the IAA 2019: rather than rear passenger seats, the car is outfitted with two hanging chairs that work according to the same principle as a hammock. And, as if this weren’t unusual enough, passengers can easily remove the hanging chair and bring it with them. “This way, Audi accompanies the driver on his entire trip, whether in the car or on the hiking trail,” explains Keyerleber.

The outdoor theme carries over into the entire interior of the electric car. The grab handles are made of climbing rope that is knotted using macramé techniques.  And the functionality is essential. The armrests, for example, are treated with an anti-bacterial, dirt-repellant coating. Gadgets like portable water bottles and light objects with a flashlight feature can be used on trips outside of the car. The “light companion” can scan the path and ensure that that the hiker finds their way back safely.

Natural materials such as wood, felt, and wool emphasize the connection to nature. In addition, some of the materials used in the interior are sustainably produced, like the recycled leather of the carpeting. It’s the Audi AI:TRAIL’s tribute to nature.

We make mobility possible and use experiences to create an emotional connection to our brand.

Oliver Keyerleber, Design Project Management Showcar at Audi

Concept car AI:TRAIL — pressing pause on everyday hectic

Overflowing with digital contacts, messages, and information — the modern world is marked by constant stimuli. With the AI:TRAIL, Audi wants to help passengers slow down and show what is truly important. Oliver Keyerleber puts it like this: “We make mobility possible and use experiences to create an emotional connection to our brand.”

He continues: “On a quiet path out in nature, the driver finds himself. He can concentrate on whatever is going on around him at precisely that moment. And that makes every trip in the AI:TRAIL a unique experience.”

But the Audi concept car for 2019 isn’t designed solely to make nature tangible for the driver. It should also make people more aware of how valuable the environment is.

A look behind the scenes: more pictures of the AI:TRAIL


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