Different Roads 
Audi AL2. 1999.
Audi AL2. 1999.
Courtesy Audi
Select image for enlarged view.

The AL2, a concept car developed by Audi, addresses many of the issues integral to the car for the next millennium and represents an important departure both in terms of styling and engineering from present automobiles. Scheduled to go into production in the fall of 1999, the AL2 features extensive use of weight-saving aluminum that was pioneered by Audi in the A8 sedan. The overall gas mileage is as much as forty percent better than a conventional car. A sophisticated space-frame structure enhances weight savings, stability, and strength. This automobile weighs approximately 1,700 pounds–575 pounds lighter than the same car with steel parts. The AL2 debuts a three-cylinder, spark-ignition model that produces fifteen to twenty percent better fuel economy than a conventional spark-ignition engine. Like the Multipla and the Smart, the passengers are raised above the power source, creating greater safety and a comfortable amount of room for four occupants.
The rectangular and boxy form of the Audi illustrates a recent trend among some manufacturers away from the sinuously continuous shapes of the past first made popular by the Italian Continental designers of the 1950s and 60s. Like the recent Beetle and the Audi TT, the AL2’s styling appears to confirm the manufacture of the automobile as sum of different interconnecting parts. The car’s unique transparent roof allows light to stream in through frosted green plastic windows supported by light alloy struts. In an attempt to make the car "family friendly," an advanced electronics package includes a steering wheel-based control system, a navigation system, photo-sensors for parking, emergency call, and an automatic distance control that alerts drivers when they are getting too close to the car ahead. A manual gearbox features an automatic clutch.



© 1999  The Museum of Modern Art, New York