While BMW and Mercedes-Benz decided to offer EV alternatives to their flagship luxury cars in the guise of the i7 and EQS, respectively, Audi is going EV-only with its next-generation A8.
Due to be unveiled in 2024, the next-generation Audi A8 will feature a high-performance EV powertrain enabled by the new PPE platform and a radical new look borrowing heavily from the 2021 Grandsphere concept.
Set to be revealed next year, the Audi A8 e-tron as it's expected to be called will feature only light changes compared to the striking Grandsphere concept car.
This bit of good news comes from Audi's design chief, Marc Lichte. Speaking to Autocar on the sidelines of the recent Audi Activesphere concept's debut, he said: "The Grandsphere is a very concrete teaser. It's not far away from what will become production. It's not 1:1 but very close."
Described by Audi as a "private jet for the road," the Grandsphere is designed primarily around its capacity for Level 4 autonomous driving – like the Activesphere, Skysphere and Urbansphere concept cars.
Audi previously said the Grandsphere was the closest of the four Sphere concepts to a future production model, and now Lichte's comments confirm it.
Gallery: Audi Grandsphere Concept
Fitting for its self-driving tech, the Grandsphere concept has been designed "from the inside out" to offer a lounge-style environment where no human input is needed to drive it – the steering wheel and pedals retract into the bulkhead when the car goes into full autonomous mode.
The new Audi A8 will be the flagship of a new wave of EVs built on the brand's new PPE electric car platform co-developed with Porsche. The first to launch will be the Audi Q6 e-tron, expected to be unveiled later this year, followed by electric versions of the Audi A4 and A6.
Given Lichte's comments, the future Audi A8 will probably be a tad smaller than the Grandsphere, which is 5.35 meters (210.6 inches) long with a massive wheelbase of 3.19 m (125.6 in); it's significantly larger than the long-wheelbase version of the current A8.
It will be interesting to see if the production model will retain the concept's 120-kWh battery capable of 800-volt charging at speeds of up to 270 kW and offering a range of more than 466 miles (750 kilometers).
In the Grandsphere concept, the battery powers a dual-motor AWD powertrain producing 530 kilowatts (710 horsepower) and 708 pound-feet (960 Newton-meters) of torque. That's enough power to allow a 0 to 62 mph (100 km/h) sprint in just over 4 seconds.