Audi A8 Limo Offers Hands Free Traffic Driving.
Plug-in Hybrid Comes Later.
Audi unveiled its new A8 flagship limousine, which makes another step towards the eventual goal of taking control away from humans and handing it over to the computer.
Audi says the new A8 boasts a new design language, but it is like most of the German luxury maker’s new cars, barely distinguishable from the previous model by the unpractised eye.
Audi introduced the new sedan at an event in Barcelona, Spain; something of a surprise given that the Frankfurt Car Show in September would usually be used to showcase such an important car for the company. But this at least guarantees the spotlight of publicity won’t be diluted by competitors.
Audi said the new A8 is the first production car in the world to have been developed for highly automated driving.
From 2018, Audi said it will gradually be taking piloted driving functions such as parking pilot, garage pilot and traffic jam pilot into production.
Audi said the A8 has a radically new operating concept, dispensing with the familiar rotary pushbutton and touchpad of the predecessor model in favor of an instrument panel which is largely free of buttons and switches.
“The new A8 is the first production car to have been developed specially for highly automated driving. The Audi traffic jam pilot takes charge of driving in slow-moving traffic at up to 37mph on major roads where a physical barrier separates the two carriageways,” said Audi.
“The traffic jam pilot manages starting, accelerating, steering and braking. The driver no longer needs to monitor the car permanently. They can take their hands off the steering wheel permanently and, depending on the national laws, focus on a different activity that is supported by the car, such as watching the on-board TV. As soon as the system reaches its limits, it calls on the driver to take back control of the task of driving,” Audi said.
There is a choice of V6 gasoline and diesel engines, an 8 cylinder diesel, and W12 6.0 litre gasoline engine.
All engines operate a 48-volt electrical system. Later there will be plug-in hybrid with 31-miles of battery only range.
The A8 will compete against the Mercedes S class, BMW 7 Series, the Porsche Panamera and the Tesla Model S.
The new A8 goes on sale around the world by the end of the year. No word yet on price.