Audi has unveiled an all-electric concept car at the Pebble Beach Automotive Week in Monterey, California that visualizes a radical electrically powered driving machine for both the road and the race track. The all-electric Audi PB18 e-tron Concept is essentially a design and technical study of a futuristic high-performance sports car.
Basically, the PB18 e-tron boasts of a technical concept built from Audi's years of victories at the Le Mans, as implemented through the carmaker’s high-performance arm -- Audi Sport GmbH. The “PB18” in its name refers to the place and year (Pebble Beach and 2018) it was unveiled, while the “e-tron” signifies the fact that the concept shares the technological DNA with the Audi R18 e-tron, the carmaker’s high successful LMP1 racing car.
In terms of dimensions, the PB18 e-tron is similar to a classical sports car – it measures 4.53 meters (14.5 ft.) in length, 2 meters (6.4 ft.) in width and 1.15 meters (4.6 ft) in height, with wheelbase of 2.70 meters (8.9 ft) and short overhangs.
Its front end features the hexagonal Singleframe grille with a wide and horizontal cut, as flanked by large air inlets. As typical in an Audi sports car, the Audi logo is located above at the front of the hood. The front end makes use of wide and flat light units featuring integrated digital matrix technology and laser high-beam headlights, which had its debut in the Le Mans R18 racing car. The hood of the PB18 e-tron dips deeply to serve as a lateral bridge that links connecting the accentuated fenders while also acting as an air deflector.
When viewed from the side, the PB18 e-tron reveals a gently sloping roof line pulled far to the back, making the study similar to a shooting brake concept. Supported by massive C-pillars, this design allows for 470 liters (16.6 cubic ft.) in cargo space, something sports car usually lacks.
The side of the PB18 e-tron also reveals side windows angling inwards and extremely extended wheel arches, which help highlight the concept’s wide track. The PB18 e-tron rides on large 22-inch wheels with eight asymmetrically designed spokes evoking that of turbine inlets.
On the rear, a flat red band of lights runs across the entire width of the PB18 e-tron. The rear diffuser air outlet is positioned like on a race car, although can be moved downward mechanically to heighten downforce. The rear spoiler can be extended rearward also to create more downforce.
Interestingly, the side windows angling inwards and extremely extended wheel arches of the Audi PB18 e-tron concept are traits it shares with another concept unveil last year – the Audi Aicon. More than these, these concept cars also share their electric drive, featuring solid-state battery as energy storage.
Nonetheless, while the Aicon was conceptualized as a fully automated, long-distance luxury vehicle, the PB18 e-tron is designed as a radical high performance machine boasting of high levels of dynamics and emotion. As it is, the PB18 e-tron is truly a driver-oriented high-performance electric car. While the Aicon boasts of full automation and luxuries, the PB18 e-tron doesn’t employ complex systems for automated driving and doesn’t have comfort elements that usually add weight. Because of this, people at Audi nicknamed the PB18 e-tron as “Level Zero.” No semi-autonomous driving system is installed on the concept, giving the driver in full control of steering, accelerating (gas pedal) and stopping (brake pedal).
Essentially, the PB18 e-tron is design to accommodate the driver and a passenger in a cockpit integrated into an inner monocoque shell. When the driver has no passenger on board, he or she can slide the monocoque laterally to the center, similar to in a monoposto. This is possible as the control elements are not mechanically elements – the steering and pedals have a by-wire design.
The Audi PB18 e-tron concept boasts of a lightweight body, thanks to the use of aluminum, carbon and multi-material composites. Likewise, the concept employs a lightweight solid-state battery, the weight associated with usual batteries have been avoid. In fact, the PB18 e-tron is expected to tip the scales at less than 1,550 kg (3,417.2 lbs).
Powering the PB18 e-tron are three powerful electric motors -- one on the front and two at the rear – as complemented by the quattro system. The front motor delivers up to 150 kW to the front axle while the rear motors provide up to 350 kW to the rear axle. At a typical drive, the system delivers up to 500 kW (671 hp) of max output and 830 Nm (612 lb.-ft.) of torque. However, a temporary boost can be availed to tap up 570 kW (764 hp) of output.
With this amount power, the PB18 e-tron can sprint from zero to 62 mph (100 km/h) in just over 2 seconds. The motors get their juice from 95-kWh solid state battery that allows for an estimated range of over 310.7 miles (500 km), as per WLTP. The battery can be recharged in just 15 minutes through an 800-volt charging system. Induction charging through Audi Wireless Charging (AWC) can also be used.
Supporting the PB18 e-tron is a suspension system derived from the Audi R18 e-tron quattro Le Mans racing car. Stopping power is taken care of by 19-inch carbon brake discs and the electric brake.