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Welcome to the future, Mr Claus

23rd December 2022
Paige West

This year, Santa is swapping his reindeer for a next level automobile.

This article originally appeared in the Dec'22 magazine issue of Electronic Specifier Design – see ES's Magazine Archives for more featured publications.

Audi’s 2022 Christmas advert depicts (a rather smart) Mr Claus preparing for his biggest night of the year by slipping into the car makers luxurious concept car – the Audi grandsphere.

Described as “the private jet for the road”, this concept car is the second of three ‘sphere’ concepts Audi has announced, and this one is special – not just because it’s being used by Santa himself but because the technologies and design features assembled in it will turn up again within a few years in future Audi series. The Audi grandsphere concept illustrates the brand’s claim that it is becoming the trendsetter at the top of the automotive industry for technological transformation and completely new, holistic mobility offerings.

With Level 4 automated driving, Santa won’t have to worry about keeping an eye on the road. In the autonomous mode, the steering wheel and pedals retract to create a spacious lounge giving Santa (and other users) new levels of freedom. In fact, the backrest can be reclined by as much as 60°, creating a comfortable resting position. That means Santa can start work on his naughty and nice list even earlier!

Together with a range of more than 750 kilometres (466 miles) – depending on the selected drive system and power output – the Audi grandsphere concept is suitable for long distances. Ok, it won’t get around the whole world in one trip but apparently 10 minutes is enough to charge the battery to a level sufficient to power the car more than 300 kilometres (186 miles). In less than 25 minutes, you can charge the 120kWh battery from five to 80%. No carrots necessary.

Whilst you need to remember that the vehicle shown is a concept vehicle and is not available as a production vehicle, Audi have strongly hinted that the grandsphere concept shows what may one day be technically possible.

The automated driving functions shown are technologies currently under development, are not available for production vehicles and only work within system limits. All possible uses of the technical systems and functions shown represent only a possible concept and are dependent on the respective legal regulations in the relevant country.

It’s not just Santa that can hope to enjoy this sort of luxury. According to Statista, autonomous vehicles are expected to account for about 12% of car registrations by 2030. Is it too early to add one to my list for next year??

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