The Monterey Car Week is in it’s final few days and the epic car event known as the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in California, USA, is a fitting venue for unveiling new cars for the wealthy enthusiasts. This year, there will be some epic production models debuting at the event while Audi has decided to showcase a new concept car – the PB-18 e-tron.
A name that sounds more like a designer’s PSD file name and is even less creative than what Ferrari come up with these days, PB18 is short for Pebble Beach 2018. However, the concept car itself is quite inspirational in its design and onboard technology. Created in Audi’s new design studio in Malibu, California the PB18 e-tron takes into account the learnings from Audi’s many successful years of winning the Le Mans racing series with the LMP1 racecar – Audi R18 e-tron.
This electric concept shares its ethos with the Audi e-tron Vision Gran Turismo and is focussed on offering a racing driver experience. Hence, the interior is developed around the driver’s position in the centre, much like an LMP1 racecar, or even a McLaren F1 or the upcoming Speedtail. There are no levels of autonomy here, just a skilled human behind the wheel controlling a very capable piece of equipment. Just the way I like it.
The seat and cockpit are integrated into an inner monocoque shell that slides laterally, made possible in part by the by-wire design of the steering and pedal controls which meant no mechanical connections were in the way. When the driver’s monocoque is slid to the side for ‘daily driving’ the PB18 e-tron, an additional seat for a passenger can be accessed which is integrated low above the ground and equipped with a three-point seatbelt. It even has 470 litres of boot space for luggage and groceries. The interior detailing, even though it’s a just a concept, is impressive and every time you look at the photos a bit closely, you notice more than you did last time.
Constructed using a mix of carbon, aluminium and various composites the body of the PB18 e-tron concept is kept low and even with a new, relatively light solid-state battery, Audi expects the final weight to be around 1,550kg. The most appealing design factor for me despite its underwhelming colour is that it is a shooting brake body design. All the details from the sharp lines, the vents, the intakes, the air curtains and all the other aero elements on the PB18 e-tron empower it with a visual presence that matches the performance. It even has an extending rear wing (looks like a cooler version of the Porsche Panamera’s delpoyable wing) and a diffuser that can be moved downward mechanically for more downforce!
Powering this electric performance concept car is a mid-mounted, liquid-cooled 95kWh battery that is supplying the buzz to three electric motors — one up front and two at the back. It’s a quattro, duh. With up to 150kW to the front axle and 350kW to the rear, the maximum output is 500kW or 670BHP, with a combined torque output of up to 830Nm. But if you ever need that little extra better-hold on-power (BHP for EVs), Audi has you covered with a boost that temporarily increases output to 764BHP. At full chat, the PB18 e-tron should be able to launch from nought to a 100kph in just over 2 seconds.
But if you wanna play the range game, you can limit the power output and full charge should be able to offer a range of over 500 kilometres. The concept is also designed for rapid charging with a voltage of 800 volts which could fully recharge the battery in about 15 minutes. So, a quick stop to stretch your legs and grab a soda and you’d have another few hundred kilometres of range. Sounds good.
It may be a driver’s car but it is packing a lot of clever tech too. The Torque Control Manager works with the ESC to actively distribute power to the wheels of the front and rear axles as needed for optimal driving dynamics and stability in any situation. The onboard computers make millions of calculations every moment to make sure the driver has exactly what he or she needs from the car to push it as hard as they dare.
But for now, all these lovely bits and bobs are just a concept from Audi. Their first fully electric production model will be an SUV, the e-tron which will make its debut in September, so, soon. For now, let’s just enjoy what Audi could make but won’t.
Can you come up with a better name for this concept car? Which colour would you have liked to see it in? Share your thoughts on the PB18 e-tron concept in the comments below and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog for plenty more to come.