Whatever happened to the Audi AI:ME?

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The AI:Me concept feels a lot further away as Audi reveals its latest oversized SUV concept.

An urban-focused Audi concept with a lounge-style interior, futuristic styling and level four autonomy? Sounds familiar, but looks a lot bigger…

2019’s MEB-based Audi AI:ME concept followed similar principles in line with a focus on the car-sharing market, but showed that many of the same goals and functions could be achieved with a much more tightly packaged and familiar proposition. Indeed, at the time, many were quick to point out its similarities in positioning and ethos to the legendary Audi A2 supermini.

Audi Urban Sphere 1

But that was three years ago now, and Audi has since remained tight-lipped on any plans for its own sibling model to the Volkswagen ID 3. All concepts since have used the more premium PPE architecture and placed an overt focus on dynamism, interior space, high-level autonomy or luxury, which begs the question: how would a small electric hatchback fit into Audi’s future line-up?

Audi has long been candid about its prioritisation of larger, more profit-friendly cars. Early last year boss Markus Duesmann hinted that the current Audi A1 supermini faced an uncertain future because other VW Group brands, namely Skoda, Seat and Volkswagen, “are active there and very successful, with very high production”.

Audi Urbansphere

More recently, an official statement confirmed the A1 and the small Audi Q2 crossover will not be replaced – directly, at least – at the end of their current lifecycles.

It said: “Audi is definitively positioning itself as a premium brand within the Group. As such, it is limiting its model range downward while expanding upward.”

Strange that Audi’s smallest and largest concepts in recent memory should be targeted so closely at the same segments, but perhaps its a reflection of a somewhat uncomfortable truth: bigger cars make for more flexible interiors, and thus better urban propositions.

Felix Page

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