Audi Unveils Prologue Concept Car, Hydrogen Cell Plug-in Hybrid

The Prologue will inform the design of future Audis in the face of major redesigns by rival Mercedes-Benz: "Audi has to be aggressive," says design chief Marc Lichte

Audi took the wraps off a hydrogen-cell fueled version of its A7 model at the Los Angeles Auto Show on Wednesday as well as the Prologue concept car. The Prologue was unveiled Tuesday night at an event at a home in the Hollywood Hills not far from where George Harrison wrote The Beatles' "Blue Jay Way." 

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At Tuesday's event, Audi design chief Marc Lichte said the Prologue, which had to be delivered via a crane onto the cliffside patio of the home, will serve as a template for future Audis. The car may eventually go into production as the A10, a coupe version of the flagship A8.

The new aesthetic combines elements of Audi's current design with the more aggressive and angular appearance seen on the brand's refreshed TT sports coupe, which goes on sale next spring. 

The cabin of the concept integrates touch-sensitive displays controlling temperature, entertainment and other functions across the length of the dashboard using bendable OLED (organic light-emitting diodes) that disappear when not in use. Software recognizes passengers entering the car via their smartphones and automatically adjusts seats and air conditioning. 

Audi's designs have lagged behind those of rival Mercedes-Benz, which in the past two years has unveiled a series of major updates to its flagship S-Class models. The Prologue is meant to convey that Audi, which has logged record sales in recent years, could be just as aggressive.

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"We are on our way to our fifth consecutive year of record sales," Audi of America president Scott Keogh said before the Prologue's unveiling. "If you look at the reason Audi owners love these cars, it's because they love design. And that is why this concept is so important for Audi."

Lichte said the Prologue would directly inform the look of the future A6, A7 and A8 models and that "the foundation for this design was a very simple strategy: Audi has to be sporty, Audi has to be aggressive and sophisticated."

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