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Audi has unveiled its PB18 e-tron concept at the Pebble Beach Automotive Week in Monterey, California. In case you were wondering what PB18 stands for, PB stands for Pebble Beach and the 18 comes from Audi’s LMP1 car, the R18 e-tron, on which the concept is based. You can also find similarities with the Audi Aicon concept that was showcased in 2017.
The overall architecture of the car is like a mid-engined sports car with the cab forward stance. The front facia of the car has wide laser beam headlamp units with LED DRLs, the two triangular air dams at either side of the front bumper and in place where Audi’s signature hexagonal grille used to be, you will find…just the hexagonal frame with nothing inside! Air rushes inside the massive hexagonal gate and exits via another opening in front of the windscreen. The silhouette of this car is like that of a shooting brake type, as the roof gradually flows to the C-pillar and joins the spoiler. The diffuser can be lowered and the spoiler can be extended to get the desired downforce. They have to be adjusted manually though.
There’s also 470 litres of luggage space in case you were wondering about storage space. The striking rear end features full width LED taillights with union rings nestled just above the LED bar at the centre. It has supercar proportions too – 4.53 metres long, 2 metres wide and 1.15 metres tall. The wheelbase is 2.70metres. For perspective, the car is just 40mm shorter, 30mm narrower and 60mm lower than the Bugatti Chiron. The seating position of the car is very low as you see in the pictures. Information like the navigation, speed and perfect line around the corner for road and track use are displayed on the screen via a transparent OLED surface.
The car can be used for road and track and so the seating position can also be adjusted accordingly. The driver seat and the cockpit is one unit and can be moved in the centre when on the race track and can be moved to the side, giving room for one occupant, ideal for road conditions. This is made possible by the cars drive-by-wire of the steering and pedals, where there is no mechanical connection to interfere. Who would have thought that electric car concepts can be so cool? The PB18 e-tron is built using a lot of light weight materials like carbon fibre, aluminium and other composite materials, which result in a weight of just 1,550kg. There is a catch though – the car is devoid of comfort features and doesn’t get autonomous driving tech.
Moving to the performance bits, propelling the e-tron concept are three electric motors – one on the front axle which generates 201bhp, and two on the rear axle which make 496bhp. With added boost the power jumps up to 764bhp temporarily while peak twist produced is 830Nm. The two motors drive the rear wheels independently for torque vectoring and are controlled by the ESC to increase traction. With all the firepower at its disposal and the four-wheel drive system, the PB18 e-tron can accelerate to 100kmph in just over 2 seconds, which is not much of a difference compared to the acceleration figures of the current LMP1 race car, says Audi.
Powering those electric motors is a 95kWh liquid cooled solid state battery, which can be charged with upto 800 volts juicing up the battery in just 15 minutes! Wireless charging is also possible, courtesy an inductive pad (connected to the power supply). The alternating magnetic field induces an alternating voltage in the secondary coil fitted in the floor of the car, across the air gap, thus wirelessly charging the car. At full charge, the PB18 e-tron claims to deliver a range of nearly 500km on the WLTP (Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure) cycle, according to the company.
The massive eight spoke 22-inch alloy wheels of the car are designed to look like the inlets of the turbine and are housed inside the even more massive flared wheel arches. Hauling the massive beast to a stop are 19-inch ceramic brakes at all four ends, working in conjunction with the electric motors. Confused? At slow speeds, when you touch the brakes lightly, the electric motors come into play and slow down the car. When you are hustling the car at high speeds and want to slow down, the ceramic brakes work with the electric motors to shed speed. The PB18 e-tron has pushrod operated spring and damper on the front and pull-road suspension at the rear, to reduce unsprung weight, like the prototype racer. What differs in the concept car is the use of the company’s magnetic ride system that both dampers use.
The PB18 e-tron is a refreshing concept in every sense. The striking design, the dual role of track and road use to balance practicality and enjoy the Thrill of Driving is very neatly integrated into one superb package. Not to forget the claimed range and ease of charging eliminating range anxiety, too.