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Audi PB18 e-tron concept revealed at Pebble Beach

By Chris Thompson and Georg Kacher, 24 Aug 2018 News

Audi PB18 e-tron concept Pebble Beach news

Electrified concept may pave the way for the next R8

The Audi PB18 e-tron concept has made its debut at the Pebble Beach Car Week in Monterey, California.

As the car that may pave the way for the next R8, it’s under plenty of scrutiny. So here are the most important figures, courtesy of MOTOR’s European Editor Georg Kacher.

Its all-wheel drive three-motor system (two rear, one front) is usually able to top 500kW with up to 450kW able to head rearward, though on overboost it’ll have temporary access to a cumulative 570kW of poke.

Combined torque of up to 830Nm is of course available always, and these outputs allow a 0-100km/h sprint in just over 2 seconds, Audi says.

Primary braking is undertaken by the electric motors to recover energy, though hydraulic brakes are activated under heavy braking pressure.

Similar to Porsche’s Taycan EV, the PB18 should be capable of a 500km trip on one charge, with charging capacity for 800 volts. Audi claims 15 minutes for a full charge.

Thanks to a lightweight mix of aluminium, carbon fibre and composites, the Audi tips the scales at 1550kilos.

Its packaging concept does not differ much from the R8 - only that the position of the V10 is now occupied by the compact battery pack.

The suspension consists of double wishbones all-round, with pushrod and pullrod (front and rear respectively) elements supported by adaptive magnetic ride shock absorbers. By and large, the chassis was inspired by the R18 e-tron quattro race car.

But as the images suggest, this concept is no more a coupe than it is a shooting brake.

“The outline drops sharply just before it reaches the relatively slim C-posts,” Georg Kacher tells us.

“The massive U-shaped roof-mounted wing extends automatically at speed, the rear side windows stretch all the way to the chunky rear end, the compact liftgate provides remote-control access to a deep and wide cargo deck which holds 470litres.”

“At the trailing edge of the flush-fitting underside, we find a similar ground effect arrangement governed by an adjustable flap positioned above the diffusor.

“PB18 sits on a 2700mm wheelbase, measures 4530mm in length, is 2-metres wide and 1150mm low.

“Filling the pleasantly subtle quattro blisters are 22-inch wheels with active blades for optimized aerodynamics and brake cooling.”

Kacher spoke with Audi California design loft head Gael Buzyn and passed on the knowledge he gleaned regarding the PB18.

“PB18 and the Aicon [Audi’s autonomous concept] are the bookends of Audi´s e-tron product strategy,” explains Buzyn.

“While the sports coupé is a level zero BEV with no assistance systems at all, Aicon is a fully autonomous level five long-distance cruiser.”

Next year, Audi will likely show two more concept cars relaying its visions for level three and four, namely a compact city cruiser and a midsize crossover.

“The role of PB18 is to transfer automotive passion to the age of electrification. Our first over-the-ocean project was kicked off on May 18 this year.

“While the design work was done in the US, the car was taking shape in Ingolstadt where our modellers would complete a full-size clay in only two days. Progress was monitored simultaneously on both sides of the pond via VR googles.

“The almost fully functional show car was built in record time by a specialist near Ingolstadt. What makes me particularly proud is the fact that this is not a rebodied Lamborghini or a blueprinted Porsche.

“PB18 is a proper Audi from bottom to top, unique in terms of content and appearance.”

For those wondering, Audi says the ‘PB18 e-tron’ moniker “refers both to the Pebble Beach venue for the premiere and to the technological DNA it shares with the successful LMP1 racing car, the Audi R18 e-tron.”

Finally, Georg Kacher reveals some more knowledge from the inner circle.

More on the Monterey Car Week

“What Audi doesn´t want you know at this point is that PB18 sits, by and large, on the brand-new PPE platform co-developed with Porsche.

“No, this is not yet the next R8 by any stretch of the imagination, but given the potential commonality in terms of hard points and componentry, phase two should only be a formality.

“Since the R8 will definitely not be replaced with another R8, this remarkably coherent all-electric concept car may be a timely substitute come 2021 or 2022.”