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Audi to unveil AI:ME city car concept in Shanghai

by Ronan Glon

Could it preview the company's follow-up to the A2?

Audi will travel to the biennial Shanghai Auto Show to unveil a concept car named AI:ME. If built, the AI:ME will be positioned as a connected, autonomous-capable city car powered exclusively by electricity.

The teaser sketches reveal little about the model, but they confirm it's a lot less sporty than recent electric concepts, like the E-Tron GT unveiled at the 2018 Los Angeles show. The idea wasn't to create a performance car. Designers instead placed an emphasis on carving out as much interior space as possible, so they pushed the wheels out to the corners and gave the concept a tall greenhouse.

While Audi calls the AI:ME an "automated driving concept car," one of the teaser sketches clearly shows the model is equipped with a steering wheel, so it's not fully autonomous. It looks like the driver can push the steering wheel into the dashboard when it's time for the car to drive itself. The high-resolution color screen that stretches the entire width of the dashboard varies the type of information it displays depending on whether the car is driving itself, or being driven.

Specifications remain under wraps; all we know is that the model is electric.

Audi will release additional details about the AI:ME in the coming weeks, and the concept will make its debut on April 15 in Shanghai. At this point, it's too early to tell whether it will receive the proverbial green light for production. Audi is known for performance and luxury, but it has dabbled in the city car segment before. It made the Audi 50 -- which turned into the original Volkswagen Polo -- between 1974 and 1978, and the A2 from 1999 to 2005.

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