Audi recently took a patent out on a new type of convertible folding mechanism that allows for a convertible to be designed with B and D pillars.
The patent shows a very basic, two-box-design vehicle whose roof is broken into three parts in order to fold away and stow behind the rear seats.
The innovation here being that the vehicle has pillars at the rear as well as pillars in the middle, which help both with rigidity and rollover protection. All of which means that Audi can make a bigger SUV.
“Due to the presence of the side pillars and the rear pillars in the closed state of the roof [up], a motor vehicle is provided which has a far greater transport capacity than known convertible vehicles,” writes Audi in the patent application.
Not only does that mean a bigger SUV, but also more cargo capacity. The patent allows for a swing down tailgate to open when the roof is up or down. The tailgate can also slide into the body, allowing the owner to fill the trunk without having to lean over the tailgate.
There would also be lots of room in the trunk (relatively speaking) because of the unique way in which the roof folds.
By folding the middle section into the trunk, then simply placing the rearmost section of the roof over it as a lid, the whole roof would actually be pretty compact when it’s folded. And since the rear roof section does double duty as both roof and lid, it helps cut weight, too.
Mind you, people in the front seat wouldn’t quite be as open to the elements as they would be in most other convertibles.
That’s because the A pillar stretches all the way back over the front passengers for greater rollover protection. In fact, with the roof up at least, the whole design has great rollover protection because of how many pillars there are. The design is also apparently very stiff.
And it’s that combination of rollover protection, stiffness, and a tailgate that lead us to believe that this will be a convertible SUV. And since a big part of this is access to a trunk, we think it’s fairly unlikely to be an EV, since there would already be motors and junk back there. In the trunk.
So, a traditionally propelled vehicle, with lots of interior volume, no rear seats, and a two-box design. We’re betting on Q8 because it kind of feels right. It’s already a coupe, which is weird for an SUV, and Audi wants it to be the halo car so bold new ideas seem to be right up its alley.
That said, the requirement of the rearmost section of the roof to be the convertible lid, would make it difficult for an SUV-coupe to use this setup since its angled D pillars would make it sit funny. So we could be wrong.
Unfortunately, the drawing is so vague that, really, this could be any number of vehicles, but whatever the case, Audi is working on ways to change the cabriolet game.