While the Grand Sphere has been designed around its autonomous capabilities, Lichte insisted that it will retain a driver focus. “It’s an Audi, and an Audi must be a pleasure to drive,” he said.

The concept retains a steering wheel, although this will retract into the dashboard when the car is in autonomous mode. That dashboard will also introduce a radical new design, with the removal of all physical buttons and screens.

“We’re already thinking beyond the screen,” said Lichte. “In this car, there are no displays any more. There’s no dashboard; there’s a huge open space, and we’re working with projection mapping.

“We have some clever ideas on how we will integrate the displays in driving position. There’s a very nice application, and if you need a screen for sat- nav or watching a movie [when the car is] in autonomous mode, we will project all the content onto this application.”

While some of the interior features of the Grand Sphere echo those seen in more conceptual autonomous design proposals, such as its retractable wheel and radical interface, Lichte insisted that “there’s no big gap” between it and the Landjet production car that will be revealed in 2024 and go on sale the year after.

Audi interior design boss Norbert Weber added: “The new leeway afforded to us [by EV design] in the cabin is something we want to utilise to underscore what the exterior design shows. We want to continue to develop the interior with a new expressiveness. We’ve always had strong interior cabins, and this unique character shows a new importance developing to the inside from the outside.”

Sphere concept trio to explore autonomy

More Sphere concepts due The Grand Sphere will be joined within the next year by two more concepts that will explore the future design of autonomous-enabled Audi cars, both of which have been previewed in a short video. 

Audi exterior design chief Philipp Römers said that the trio would all explore themes around the interior car as a living ‘sphere’. He said: “We have the claim ‘inside bold, outside magic’. This is the paradigm shift that runs through the different classes. It’s not specific to the D-segment, for example, we can also see these concepts radiate into other segments.”