Shoot­ing for ex­cep­tional elec­tric per­for­mance

FU­TURE MOD­ELS/ Push to all-elec­tric cars con­tin­ues as Audi’s E-tron launch ap­proaches, writes Michael Tay­lor

Business Day - Motor News - - COMMERCIAL NEWS -

Audi has con­tin­ued to build its zero emis­sion cred­i­bil­ity with the re­veal of its PB18 E-tron con­cept car at the Quail ex­hibit dur­ing Mon­terey car week in the US.

The Ger­man brand, which is due to launch its first pro­duc­tion bat­tery-elec­tric car, the E-tron cross­over, in SA in 2019, de­liv­ered a stun­ning-look­ing shoot­ing brake-style ma­chine with a mov­able seat.

It will stun in more ways than looks, though, with a 0100km/h punch in just two sec­onds thanks to a 150kW elec­tric mo­tor on the front axle, 350kW from two elec­tric mo­tors on the rear and a tem­po­rary abil­ity to get up to 570kW on over­boost.

Nor­mally boast­ing 500kW from its to­tal sys­tem power, it’s only frac­tion­ally slower in a straight line than Audi’s re­tired LMP1 Le Mans rac­ers and uses a rad­i­cal solid-state bat­tery, which isn’t ex­pected in pro­duc­tion cars un­til at least 2024.

With 830Nm of in­stant torque, it has a torque con­trol man­age­ment sys­tem that holds hands with the sta­bil­ity con­trol sys­tem to in­stantly re­fine the con­cept’s max­i­mum pace in cor­ners. It can be speed lim­ited in traf­fic, but let loose on a racetrack or changed to suit lo­cal con­di­tions such as high­ways or au­to­bahns.

It has taken lessons from both For­mula E and Audi’s LMP1 pro­gram to re­cover large amounts of en­ergy, with the elec­tric mo­tors solely re­spon­si­ble for most of the brak­ing up to emer­gency lev­els of stop­ping power.

It does all this with a liq­uid-cooled solid-state bat­tery with 95kWh of elec­tri­cal en­ergy and 500km of range on the newer WLTP cy­cle. It also swal­lows 800V of charg­ing power, al­low­ing it to be fully recharged in only 15 min­utes. There’s also in­duc­tion charg­ing, via a charg­ing pad on the floor.

It would al­low for one spec­i­fi­ca­tion world­wide, be­cause it can move the driver’s seat and steer­ing wheel from the left to the right or even to the mid­dle of the car.

DRIVER EX­PE­RI­ENCE

“We want to of­fer the driver an ex­pe­ri­ence that is oth­er­wise avail­able only in a rac­ing car like the Audi R18,” the head of Audi’s De­sign Loft stu­dio in Mal­ibu, Cal­i­for­nia, Gael Buzyn, said.

“That’s why we de­vel­oped the in­te­rior around the ideal driver’s po­si­tion in the cen­tre. 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.”

It pur­posely steered clear of au­ton­o­mous tech­nol­ogy, with Audi in­stead try­ing to fo­cus on putting the sex­i­ness into elec­tric ve­hi­cles with a de­vel­op­ment project co­de­named Level Zero.

In­stead of us­ing one of the Volk­swa­gen Group’s four avail­able bat­tery­elec­tric ar­chi­tec­tures, the PB18 is loosely based around the R8’s mid-en­gined ar­chi­tec­ture.

The alu­minium chas­sis is clad in car­bon and com­pos­ite pan­els to save weight, and rides on 22-inch wheels and it looks sus­pi­ciously like it was in­spired by Lam­borgh­ini’s Es­pada coupe.

In spite of be­ing 4.53m long and 2m wide, the PB18 is only 1.15m high and weighs just 1,550kg.

It rides on a 2.7m wheel­base and de­spite the per­for­mance, it still de­liv­ers a 470l lug­gage area.

It has ac­tive aero­dy­nam­ics, too, with the rear dif­fuser and the rear spoiler mov­ing up and down me­chan­i­cally to in­crease mid-cor­ner grip.

IT CAN BE SPEED LIMI T ED IN TRAF­FIC, BUT LET LOOSE ONA RACETRACK OR CHANGED TO SUIT LO­CAL CON­DI­TIONS

Right: The driver’s seat and steer­ing wheel can be moved to ei­ther side of the car or even in the mid­dle. The PB18 E-tron gives a glimpse into what Audi says will be pos­si­ble in a few years, left.

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