Audi A2 Concept Unveiled Before Frankfurt Debut

When it comes to concept cars these days, Audi's apparently thinking small. Along with the minuscule Urban Concepts, the company will unwrap an electric-powered A2 concept -- which previews a forthcoming subcompact model -- at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show.

Like the original A2, which debuted in 2000, the new concept is diminutive in size. In fact, the concept is just a half-inch off from the original in all dimensions, and at 149.6 inches long, it’s almost a half-foot shorter than the new A1. Unlike the original, the A2 concept doesn’t utilize an aluminum spaceframe -- something that gave the first A2 a light curb weight but proved expensive. Audi has yet to reveal what exactly will power the A2 concept, but noted that will have a “powerful electric drive system for agile performance and long range.”

The interior has been designed to take advantage of the A2 concept’s sandwich-style flat floor. There is room for four, and each passenger scores his or her own bucket seat. A center console is cantilevered from those seats, and reportedly allows some flexibility when it comes to cargo -- Audi mentions it’s possible to stick an adult bicycle (with front wheel removed, of course) between the second-row seats.

Touch-sensitive surfaces control the car’s infotainment technology, and the driver has such a surface embedded into the steering wheel itself. A seven-inch LCD display, mounted on the steering column, serves as the gauge cluster. Designers attempted to push the eco-friendly envelope with the interior design, employing unusual recyclable materials throughout. The cargo cover is made from a ribbed, recycled polyester, while the door panels are wrapped in a neoprene-feel polyurethane.

Audi has been known as an innovator in exterior lighting design, so it’s not too surprising to see the A2 concept toy with new ideas in this sector. High- and low-beam headlamps are LED-powered, while running lamps use thin LED fibers, which reportedly help frame the projector assembly itself. Taillights are also LED powered, and vary in brightness based upon visibility conditions. Interestingly, the fog taillight is illuminated with laser diodes -- reportedly brighter and more efficient than LED -- and project a red triangle onto the road surface behind the car.

Interestingly, the A2 also uses LED illumination to dress up its exterior styling. The character line can be illuminated in different manners, potentially allowing it to provide entry and exit lighting and to function as a turn signal repeater. During hard braking, it progressively glows red, providing yet another warning sign to other drivers of a potential emergency stop.

Exactly how much of this will translate into a production car remains to be seen. Audi has said a production version of the A2 should launch in 2013 as an electric vehicle. Gas and diesel-powered versions should subsequently follow, launching no later than 2015.

Audi will pull the wraps off of the A2 concept in a few weeks at the Frankfurt Motor Show, and make sure to check back with Automobile Magazine for all the updates from the show floor.

Source: Audi

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