Pininfarina Building Its First Electric Supercar

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Monterey Car Week is mostly known as a showcase for the world’s best classic cars, but that hasn’t stopped high-end automakers from displaying their latest wares at the event. This time around, Lamborghini will be showing off the Aventador SVJ and Roadster SVJ, Hennessey will unveil the Venom F5 hypercar, and Audi is bringing the PB 18 e-tron concept study.

The PB 18 (PB is Pebble Beach; 18 because it’s 2018) is a car with a legacy. The Audi R18 e-tron quattro, with a diesel-hybrid drivetrain, won the 24 Hours of Le Mans—the world’s most prestigious car race—three years running from 2012 to 2014. Audi says the racer inspired “the solutions for various details” on the new car.

The R8 e-tron was first shown in 2009 and finally went into production after an unveiling at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show. But fewer than 100 of the US$1.1 million electric powerhouses were built in less than two years before the plug was, literally, pulled.

The R8 e-tron could hit 62 mph (100 kph) in 3.9 seconds and had a top speed of 155 mph. Its range was 280 miles, according to the European system (which tends to be optimistic). Advances in battery technology, lightweighting, and aerodynamics mean the PB 18—if a version is actually produced—should easily top those figures.

Not much is known much about the PB 18, other than a silhouette showing a very low and wide supercar with some family resemblance to the R8 e-tron. Audi’s Amanda Koons declined to provide any more details. The reveal event will take place at the Laguna Seca racetrack on August 23, and the car will also be shown at The Quail on Aug. 24, Laguna Seca again on the 25th, and on the Pebble Beach Concept Lawn on Aug. 26.

The car comes from the new Audi Design Loft in Malibu, California, so it won’t have to travel far for the show. Audi says only that the PB 18 is a “futuristic electric design study for the performance enthusiast driver,” and that it is about “emotion instead of emissions.”

Will some version of the new supercar make it to market? Past experience says yes. According to Eric Evarts, acting editor of Green Car Reports, “Offering an electric sports car has become the price of entry for luxury carmakers, thanks to Tesla. Pininfarina is building one for $2 million. BMW has the i8, Mercedes-Benz did the SLS AMG Electric Drive.”

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