WORLD PREMIERE: Audi AI:TRAIL — Autonomous Mad Max

Audi is putting on a bit of a show at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show, launching two all-new cars and showing off its new RS6 Avant. One of those all-new cars is the Audi RS7 Sportback, which wowed enthusiasts of the brand when it debuted yesterday. The other, though, might even be more interesting for how funky is is — the Audi AI:TRAIL Quattro.

Being an Audi:AI vehicle, the AI:TRAIL is an all-electric, fully autonomous concept car that looks more like a Mad Max buggy than a self-driving commuter. It’s the fourth Audi:AI concept car to be released and it’s probably the most interesting. It’s also the most driver-focused of the bunch. While still autonomous, the Audi AI:TRAIL seems to have the driver in mind.

What’s interesting is that the AI:TRAIL isn’t about being an urban commuter car, which so many autonomous concepts are supposed to be nowadays. Instead, the new Audi is more refreshing, as it’s more about experiencing nature.

“With the AI:TRAIL, we are showing an off-road concept with an emissions-free electric drive for an innovative driving experience away from paved roads. Consistent with this, we designed a monolithic basic vehicle body with maximum glazing to create an intense connection to the surroundings. A concept for sustainable mobility on demand.” said Marc Lichte.

So it’s essentially a monocoque body, suspended on its tall suspension, with tons of glass. So occupants can see the entire world around them. The glass even extends forwards down to the floor of the vehicle, so the driver can see the ground directly in front of them. So despite being fully autonomous, Audi did spend some thought on the driver.

Inside, the Audi AI:TRAIL can seat four passengers and it provides them with a ton of gear. Flashlights, binoculars, water bottles and paracord-like ropes adorn the inside of the cabin. So potential Audi AI:TRAIL customers can really get outdoorsy with their cars.

What’s very interesting about the AI:TRAIL is that its electric powertrain is the most deserving of the Quattro name in the brand’s history. It sports four electric motors, one for each wheel, thus giving it the most properly named Quattro all-wheel drive system on any Audi yet. All in, the four electric motors are said to combine for 429 hp and 737 lb-ft of torque. That’s a whole lot of torque.

With all of that power and four individually-driven wheels, combined with its impressive ride height, massive tires and huge suspension travel, the Audi AI:TRAIL would theoretically be able to tackle any trail imaginable. If it were ever to be made, it’d be the coolest, most capable off-road vehicle on the market.

According to Audi, its all-electric range is about 250-310 miles on paved road and light trails. Heavy off-roading would drastically reduce its range, to around 155 miles total. Though, that’s still quite impressive. The only problem is: what happens if you run out of juice while off-roading? It’s not like Moab has fast-charging stations.

In total, though, the Audi AI:TRAIL is a very cool car. It looks like an autonomous Mad Max buggy, has incredible off-road potential, is entirely electric and is more focused on its passengers and driving than autonomy. To us, this is a great concept and one we hope Audi actually puts into production. Narrator: I won’t.

CategoriesAuto Show
Nico DeMattia

I've been in love with cars since I was a kid, specifically German cars. Now I get to drive them talk about them on the internet.