Audi has shown off its latest electric experiment. It’s called the PB18 and takes the form of an all-electric supercar with 764bhp on tap.
Debuting at Pebble Beach Automotive Week in Monterey, California, the e-tron concept supercar presents a ‘radical vision for the high-performance sports car of tomorrow’, says Audi – possibly hinting that it could foreshadow the replacement for the current R8.
The PB18 e-tron shares its stylistic influence with the Audi Aicon concept revealed at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, with a cab-forward silhouette, tapering side windows and shooting-brake flavour to its rear aspect.
However, Audi is keen to distance the PB18 from the Aicon. It says the working title for the project was ‘Level Zero’ – referencing the car’s total lack of autonomous technology, unlike the fully autonomous Aicon. Audi’s release for the car says: “In the Audi PB18 e-tron, the driver is the one steering and stepping on the gas or brake pedal. There are therefore no complex systems for piloted driving on board and no comfort features to add weight.”
That weight saving also extends to the use of the very latest solid-state batteries and a composite body of carbon fibre and aluminium. Audi claims that the PB18 weighs less than 1,550kg as a result.
Further adding to the driver-focused aspect of the PB18 is a driver’s seat that can slide sideways to give a central driving position – made possible by the drive-by-wire steering and pedal box, removing the need for a mechanical link between the controls and the car.
“We want to offer the driver an experience that is otherwise available only in a racing car like the Audi R18,” said Gael Buzyn, head of the Audi Design Loft. “That’s why we developed the interior around the ideal driver’s position in the centre.”
The PB18 gets its power from three electric motors – one in the front, driving the front wheels, and one on each rear half-axle. Combined output is 671bhp, with up to 764bhp available on a temporary overboost function. Combined torque of 830Nm allows for a 0-60mph sprint of around two seconds.
Yet there are still some concessions to practicality, with a maximum range of 310 miles and fast-charge capacity allowing a full recharge in 15 minutes from a compatible 800V charger. Alternatively, it can be charged wirelessly using Audi’s induction charging pad.
The PB18 is very much a concept car and therefore unlikely to hit the market in its current form. But keep an eye out for the next R8, which could take select details – or perhaps an entire powertrain – from this model.