Photographs by Norman Woo
Audi Sport’s racing heritage is unquestionably strong and rich with a long list of historic wins.
Breaking our attention from the roaring IMSA GTP prototypes and unrestricted engines of the seventies’ Can Am race chariots circling the historic WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, Audi introduced their latest concept – the PB18 e-tron concept.
It’s no secret that Audi is working on electrifying their future fleet. The company will kick off their electrification program with a new all-electric crossover starting on September 17, 2018. Kick-starting their effort and raising a few eyebrows with a dramatic evolution of the R8 is a battery electric vehicle that borrows technology from the Le Mans winning R18 e-tron quattro race car. The final result is a driving experience that rivals an open-wheel racer.
Here are some fun facts about the Audi PB18 we learned from the experts at Ingolstadt:
Fun Fact #1: Three electric motors and a solid-state 95 kWh battery pack combine for an output of 670 horsepower and 612 lb-ft torque. That power can catapult the PB18 from zero to 60 mph a tick under 2.0 seconds. You gotta love the nearly instantaneous torque of an electric powertrain. The range is 310 miles based on European testing procedures.
Fun Fact #2: The signature Singleframe grille is not only a defining element of Audi’s design philosophy, the driver can see through it and get a direct view of the road. From inside the car, the see-through the grille and enables a visual connection to the road and gives the driver immediate feedback. According to Audi, the sensation of speed becomes very real.
Fun Fact #3: A movable cockpit positions the driver in a center position. Switch the PB18 to Level 0 – an SAE engineering term associated with zero autonomous driving features – and the cockpit slides laterally to a center position. Centering the driver alters the sport car’s weight distribution and gives the driver a different perspective of the road and the surroundings.
Audi’s Dynamic Cockpit
Drive-by-wire technology, plus packaging the batteries and electric motors with performance in mind, the Audi engineers created a dynamic cockpit that changes up the driving experience into a true competition racing format.
Fun Fact #4: A single front motor and two rear motors create unparalleled handling performance through the use of torque vectoring. There many systems where torque vectoring usually means tweaking the brakes on the inside front wheel to help pivot the car around the corner, but using the brakes means slowing the car.
In Audi’s case, a pair of electronic clutches on the rear axle can control torque and send power to either wheel. This setup virtually eliminates understeer into the corner and allows the system to push more torque to the outside wheel. That effectively speeds it up and pushes the car around from the rear.
A system like this could potentially allow the PB18 e-tron to corner with over 1g of lateral acceleration.