Audi AI:ME electric city car concept bows at Shanghai 2019

Audi’s 2019 Shanghai auto show stand will feature the brand’s idea of an all-electric city car, the AI:ME, a futuristic concept that in the automaker’s own words, “demonstrates how emotion and spatial economy can form a perfect synthesis in an electrically driven compact car.” We have no idea what that exactly means, but we suspect it’s referring to the fact that this study is envisioned to be as space effective as possible for its footprint while offering all the amenities you’ve come to expect from an Audi.

2019 Audi AI:ME Concept

Audi Bills the 2019 AI:ME Concept as Your Next Megacity Car
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This isn’t one of those concepts that are nothing more than thinly veiled close-to-production models.

This is a more traditional concept that previews the automaker’s vision for the next decade and beyond.

Audi says AI:ME provides “mobility for megacities” - these are cities with over 10-million inhabitants, of which there are roughly 50 of around the world right now; their definition (and number) varies from source to source, so the number isn’t fixed.

But, that’s still a heck of a lot of overcrowded urban centers where something like the AI:ME might come in handy for those who don’t want to give up on luxury and top-shelf tech if they opt for a smaller car. Audi also calls this car a “high-tech refuge during rush hour,” and you can now start to see how this concept is being pitched - they want it to be an oasis of tech and nice materials that will allow you to slow down, relax and enjoy the ride, all while the world around is so fast-paced and often chaotic.

Audi Bills the 2019 AI:ME Concept as Your Next Megacity Car
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This goes well with the promised Level 4 autonomous driving capability, which essentially allows the driver to let the vehicle do most of the driving, most of the time. The driver still has to intervene from time to time (when the vehicle approaches an area where the infrastructure isn’t autonomous vehicle-ready), though, as this doesn’t have the full capability of a Level 5 self-driving system that should allow the driver to take a nap behind the wheel in complete safety.

Audi mentions that the AI:ME has a 65-kWh battery pack (but makes no official range quote), as well as a rear-mounted electric motor that delivers 170 horsepower. However, since the idea behind the vehicle is for it to drive at between 20 to 70 km/h (12.4 to 43.5 mph) and merely keep up with the flow of traffic (mostly on its own), the power figure isn’t that important.

2019 Audi AI:ME Concept specifications

Engine rear-mounted electric motor
Battery 65-kWh
Horsepower 170 HP
Length 4.3 meters
Width 1.9 meters
Wheelbase 2.77 meters
Height 1.52 meters

Furthermore, the automaker makes it clear where AI:ME’s focus lies by stating that “extreme acceleration values and top highway speeds are just as obsolete as high cornering speeds and ranges that are suitable for driving long distances.” In other words, since the car will mostly drive itself and attempt to do so very smoothly so as not to upset the passengers, so it will only really ever use a fraction of the performance it can actually deliver.

It’s interesting how Audi doesn’t really talk about this vehicle as an electric car that you drive around, but more so an electric pod that drives you around.

Take a look inside the concept, and you’ll notice it has a steering wheel. So, while it is billed mainly as a self-driving car, you should be able to drive it like you do any other vehicle.

Audi Bills the 2019 AI:ME Concept as Your Next Megacity Car
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Audi AI:ME looks like a pint-sized Audi from 10 years in the future. Its exterior styling is undeniably Audi, and its front fascia is still aggressive and instantly recognizable. However, the main focus is to make the passenger compartment feel like a safe haven in a chaotic, fast-paced urban environment, so it’s not really about how the vehicle looks, but how you feel as you are being driven around by it.

But even so, the concept has unique LED daytime running lights that look like they’ve spilled out of the headlight cluster (a very dramatic and unique look), it rides on huge yet skinny rims (like a BMW i8) and, when viewed from the rear, it has nice wide flanks that give it a planted look and plenty of presence.

Basically, even if you are no longer driving the car, how you are perceived still matters, and therefore the pod that drives you around needs to look good and reflect your status.
Audi Bills the 2019 AI:ME Concept as Your Next Megacity Car
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The interior feels like it was the most important part of the vehicle for the people who designed it. It looks like a cutting edge minimalist lounge clad in fine materials all finished in light hues. The task of driving is clearly not given too much importance here, with the small steering wheel (that is actually so flat, calling it a wheel is a bit ridiculous) and pedals that both share an inner hinge. They look like they’re there only for occasional use and, according to Audi, they “are retracted with an elegant and sophisticated choreography and are then almost fully concealed by a stowage compartment.”

This vehicle doesn’t so much preview a future production model as it does Audi’s philosophy for the near future, as it will have to go along with industry changes and find new areas where it can be trend-setting and a segment leader.

AI:ME is, along with Aicon concept, a glimpse into how Audi thinks the industry will evolve and how it’s going to adapt to coming changes.

Further reading

Audi Looks To Our Autonomous EV Future With Aicon Concept High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2017 Audi Aicon Concept.

The Elaine Concept Puts Audi's Autonomous Ambitions On Display High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2017 Audi Elaine.

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