Audi PB 18 e-tron Concept – Video
At first sight, the Audi PB18 e-tron shows its kinship with another spectacular concept car from the brand – the Audi Aicon from 2017. This holds true not only for characteristic design elements like the side windows that angle inwards and the extremely extended wheel arches. The two concept cars from 2017 and 2018 also share their electric drive with solid-state battery as energy storage.
But their respective, consistently focused concepts for use make them polar opposites. While the Aicon was designed as a fully automated, long-distance luxury vehicle – a business jet for the road – the creators of the PB18 e-tron designed it as a radical driving machine for the racetrack and road. Dynamics and emotion top its list of specifications. Parameters like propulsive power, lateral acceleration and perfect ergonomics determine each detail. And driver-orientation is in a completely new dimension.
The internal working title at Audi for the showcar project was “Level Zero” – as an explicit way to differentiate it from the Levels 3, 4 and 5 of autonomous driving currently in focus at Audi. 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. In their place are a driver’s seat and cockpit that are integrated into an inner monocoque shell that can be slid laterally. When driven solo, the monocoque can be positioned in the center of the interior as in a monoposto – the perfect location for the racetrack. This is made possible not least by the by-wire design of the steering and pedals; a mechanical connection of the control elements is not needed.
Gael Buzyn is Head of the Audi Design Loft in Malibu – where the Audi PB18 e-tron was born. He describes the most important item in the specifications: “We want to offer the driver an experience that is otherwise available only in a racing car like the Audi R18. That’s why we developed the interior around the ideal driver’s position in the center. Nevertheless, our aim was to also give the PB18 e-tron a high degree of everyday usability, not just for the driver, but also for a potential passenger.”
When the driver’s monocoque is slid into the side position, from where the PB18 e-tron can be steered in everyday driving like a conventional road vehicle, there is room for a passenger. An additional seat can be accessed on the other side, integrated low above the ground and equipped with a three-point seatbelt. The driver also benefits when getting in and out from the easily accessible outside position of the monocoque, which can be moved when the door is open up to the sill.
The concept uses three powerful electric motors – one up front and two in the rear. The latter are centrally located between the steering knuckles, each directly driving one wheel via half-shafts. They deliver power output of up to 150 kW to the front axle and 350 kW to the rear – the Audi PB18 e-tron is a true quattro, of course. Maximum output is 500 kW, with boosting, the driver can temporarily mobilize up to 570 kW. The combined torque of up to 830 newton meters (612.2 lb-ft) allows acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in scarcely more than 2 seconds – a speed that differs only marginally from that of a current LMP1 prototype.
In normal road traffic, the driver can limit the maximum speed in favor of range. This limitation is easy to deactivate on the racetrack and can be adapted to local conditions.
The focus is on not just powerful performance but also maximum efficiency. While being driven, the Audi PB18 e-tron recovers large amounts of energy: up to moderate braking, the electric motors are solely responsible for decelerating the vehicle. The hydraulic brakes only come into play for heavy braking.
The concept of separate electric motors on the rear axle offers major advantages when it comes to sporty handling. The Torque Control Manager, which works together with the Electronic Stabilization Control (ESC), actively distributes the power to the wheels of the front and rear axles as needed. This torque control provides for maximum dynamics and stability. Thanks to the virtually instantaneous response of the electric motors, the control actions are lightning-quick. The drive concept of the Audi PB18 e-tron adapts perfectly to every situation, whether involving transverse or longitudinal dynamics.
The liquid-cooled solid-state battery has an energy capacity of 95 kWh. A full charge provides for a range of over 500 kilometers (310.7 miles) in the WLTP cycle. The Audi PB18 e-tron is already designed for charging with a voltage of 800 volts. This means the battery can be fully recharged in about 15 minutes.