WORLD PREMIERE: Audi PB18 e-tron Concept hits Pebble Beach

For the first time ever, Audi has launched a new concept car at Pebble Beach — the Audi PB18 e-tron Concept, an all-electric supercar that would immediately become the fastest production car in the world if it were to go into production.

The Audi PB18 e-tron is heavily inspired by motorsport and Audi’s incredible success in Le Mans, with the famous Audi R18 LMP1 racer. Not only are its design and name inspired by motorsport but also its very essence. Internally, the Audi PB18 was known as “Level Zero”, due to the fact that it’s the antithesis of autonomous driving. So rather than having Level 1, 2 or 3 autonomy, it has none. In fact, the driver is the center of everything in the PB18.

If driving solo, the driver’s seat can be moved laterally, giving the the PB18 a center driving position, much like a race car and the famous McLaren F1. All of this is done electronically, as the steering wheel and pedals are the fly-by-wire type.

“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.” said Gael Buzyn, Head of Audi Design Loft in Malibu, California.

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Though, if the driver wants to bring a passenger, the driver’s seat can be electronically slid over to the left side of the car, allowing for a passenger to ride along.

The monocoque and body of the PB18 are made from a mix carbon fiber, aluminum and other composites to keep weight as low as possible. Combine its lightweight materials with a light solid-state battery and you get a curb weight of 1,550 kg (3,417.2 lb). It also features a low center of gravity, which is also behind the driver and in front of the rear axle, which is ideal in a sports car.

In terms of styling, the Audi PB18 e-tron is not like we had expected it to be. We were expecting a sort of electric Audi R8 but instead we got a shooting brake from the future. From the front, it looks like a proper supercar, with massively flared wheel arches and an ultra low scuttle. Move rearward, though, and you’ll see how the roofline continues toward the back like a shooting brake, almost like a futuristic Ferrari GTC4 Lusso. It also has an integrated and active rear wing which can deploy rearward.

Powering the Audi PB18 e-tron are three electric motors, two at the rear axle and one at the front axle. The two at the rear combine to make 469 hp and the one at the front makes 201 hp. Total combined maximum power output is 670 hp and 612 lb-ft of torque. Though with boosting, it can temporarily make 764 hp. According to Audi, the PB18 e-tron is capable of 0-62 mph in just a hair over 2 seconds. That could make it the fastest accelerating production car ever made, if it were actually a production car.

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Audi also claims that its 95 kWh battery can provide 310 miles (500 km) of range on the WLTP cycle. It also gets 800-volt charging capabilities (likely borrowed from the Porsche Taycan) and wireless inductive charging. Audi claims that with 800-volt charging it can fully recharge in 15 minutes.

This is a very exciting concept car for Audi. It’s the brand’s first attempt at an electric supercar since the failed R8 e-tron. We wonder if Audi is planning for this to be the replacement for the Audi R8 after it dies off in 2020. If that’s the case, we won’t have to mourn the R8 when it finally leaves us, as we’ll have something even more brutally fast and incredible looking.

Nico DeMattia

I've been in love with cars since I was a kid, specifically German cars. Now I get to drive them talk about them on the internet.