This year’s Audi Summit was the first of its kind. Rather than a stand within a motor show, the German manufacturer took charge of an exhibition space in Barcelona more than 10,000 square metres in size to showcase its past, present and future.
Not only was it home to the unveiling of the brand’s new luxurious A8, but it was also an area to show the 2,000 attending guests some of the technology that is being used in its cars and behind the scenes, too.
We’ve picked five of the highlights from the day. Although it’s the first time Audi has done its summit this way, it’s likely it has blazed a trail and that other manufacturers will soon choose to showcase their new models and technology with single events as opposed to in motor shows.
A field in an exhibition centre
Rather than just a sea of LCD screens and bright spotlamps, a full, living field was installed in the centre of the main exhibition hall. There was no fake grass to be found here – the real thing had been planted, as well as a tree all the way from Italy. It even featured a working swing. Ice creams and drinks were served underneath, and it was a welcome break from the frantic crowds of the show.
Virtual reality training
Audi is now using cutting-edge technology to train its workers, too. We had a go with a VR headset and system loaded with the German manufacturer’s latest training programme. It sees the user inputting numbers into systems, scanning barcodes and loading boxes. This technology hadn’t just been prepared for the show – it’s currently in use and training technicians across Europe on how to work on an Audi production line.
Virtual reality dealership
Moving on from a business to a consumer application, we tested out Audi’s virtual dealership technology. Already being used in more than 200 dealerships, it allows potential buyers to pick a certain specification car at home, generate a code, then visit an Audi showroom to see ‘their’ car in full virtual reality. It’s ultra-realistic, and means you can chop and change between colours and trim levels before making a final decision.
Audi’s new A8
The new A8 was the centre of the entire event. Bold in both design and technology, it’s one of the most technologically advanced cars due to go on sale. Capable of level three autonomous technology – which allows the driver to fully take their hands off the wheel and feet off the pedals while travelling down a highway or when in traffic – it’s a step towards driverless cars. For the keen motorists, there still remains a powerful W12 engine option, however.
New A8 looks a LOAD better in blue pic.twitter.com/QAEadxYS8x
— Jack Evans (@jackrober) July 11, 2017
Up close with Audi’s range
It’s not very often that you get to see a manufacturer’s entire model line-up in one go. However, the opening presentation did just that, with every car from Audi’s range making an appearance on stage. It was quite the spectacle, and gave a real indication of just how vast the brand’s series of cars is. Thankfully, the slippery stage floor didn’t cause any accidents – despite some of Audi’s most powerful cars, including the R8 and RS6 Performance making an appearance in front of the audience.