Audi Electric Supercar to Rival Aston Martin, Pininfarina

Audi will take the wraps off its all-electric supercar — dubbed the PB 18 e-tron — at the Laguna Seca racetrack in California next month as part of Pebble Beach Car Week.

The German automaker was tight-lipped on the details, offering only a silhouetted image of the concept car and noting the vehicle’s moniker, PB 18, refers to the Pebble Beach venue and the year of the debut.

The company did reveal the concept car employs some technologies found on the Audi R18 e-tron hybrid electric racecar developed in 2012, but omitted specifics regarding vehicle range, battery type and, most importantly, cost.

The carmaker will first debut the PB 18, which was developed in part at the Malibu Design Loft, on August 23, and then display the car twice more during the week-long festival.

The Audi announcement follows news that legendary automotive design firm Pininfarina is looking to join the rarefied ranks of all-electric supercar makers with the production of the PFO.

The Italian supercar could boast a top speed of 250mph and offer a range of more than 300 miles, running an open source software system that can serve as a simple, modular architecture for connected car apps.

While the public will have to wait until next year for the official unveiling, a lucky few will get a glimpse of the actual car at Pebble Beach, presumably not shown alongside its German rival.

Pininfarina is aiming to have its supercar on the market by 2020, carrying an eye-watering price tag somewhere between $2 million and $2.5 million.

Among the other competitors in the ultra-high-end market are British automaker Aston Martin, which debuted the Lagonda Vision Concept at this year’s Geneva Motor Show — an unabashedly high-end luxury vehicle, complete with silk carpets and carbon fiber trim, that is planned for production in 2021.

The fully-electric car, which the company claims has a 400-mile range, features Level 4 autonomous driving, which means the car is capable of driving itself in all normal circumstances and on all recognizable roads.

Another competitor is Tesla’s Roadster, an upcoming all-electric four-seater sports car that CEO Elon Musk said will be capable of 0 to 60mph in 1.9 seconds — perhaps a fraction of a second faster than the PFO.

With an estimated price tag of $200,000, the Roadster is a veritable bargain.

Meanwhile, Porsche has unveiled a host of technical specifications on its Taycan electric luxury vehicle, boasting 600 horsepower and a range of about 310 miles.

Chinese automakers are about to get into the market as well — a luxury electric vehicle from Gyon will be launched this summer in Los Angeles.

In keeping with Audi and the others, the company has shown only a silhouette of the car, which will be powered by a set of lithium ion batteries that will give it a range of around 435 miles.

— Nathan Eddy is a filmmaker and freelance journalist based in Berlin. Follow him on Twitter.

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