Audi Artemis project to be previewed as Grand Sphere concept; production car to succeed A8 as flagship

Audi will be unveiling the Grand Sphere concept as one of three show cars designed to showcase its approach towards Level 4 autonomous driving systems, and a forthcoming concept set to premiere at the Munich motor show in September will preview the production car planned for debut in 2024, according to Autocar.

Level 4 self-driving is described as fully autonomous operation when the required conditions are met, following the recent refining of autonomous driving levels by SAE International in collaboration with the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), in light of the rapid advancement of self-driving technologies.

The Grand Sphere concept will be “a very concrete teaser of the Artemis project” that will showcase “a new revolution in design” with focus on interior space, Audi head of design Marc Lichte told Autocar. “I asked our design teams not for their vision of an A8 successor, but something completely new,” he told the magazine.

Sales volumes for three-box saloons like the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class are on the decline, with newer, more attractive bodystyles on the market, Lichte said. “Honestly, I think the S-Class has been a lot more successful than our A8, so we have to come up with something completely new to attack the S-Class; this is the result,” the Audi design chief said.

Understood to be developed under the name ‘Landjet’, the Artemis project was conceived as a successor to the A8, and Audi had considered using the name A9, however the automaker has decided to adopt a new naming convention due to the car’s radical departure from traditional sedan and SUV bodystyles, wrote Autocar, adding that the future model will be positioned as a rival to the Mercedes-Benz EQS.

Project Artemis was initially run as a standalone business, though its has recently been brought in-house by Audi. the project is intended to develop new platforms and software which is to serve as the basis for a new generation of fully electric and autonomous-ready models, and therefore be the next major step in technology for the brand after the e-tron GT and the Q4 e-tron.

The ‘Landjet’ codename has been understood to be a reference to its interior, which has been described as offering “first-class” luxury similar to that found on private aircraft, Autocar wrote.

This model will be the first from the Volkswagen Group to use the new SSP architecture that combines the Modular Electric Drive Matrix (MEB) and the Premium Platform Electric (PPE) platforms in order to accommodate a wider range of vehicles, and is being developed as a “flat” platform to allow for lower and sportier models.

The teaser images for the Grand Sphere, Sky Sphere and Urban Sphere were relased on the LinkedIn page of Audi’s had of product placement Benjamin Honal. The aforementioned Grand Sphere is depicted with a fastback roofline, the Sky Sphere shows a low-slung silhouette of a sports car, while the Urban Sphere is shown to have a taller cabin, such as in a people-mover.

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