The past and future collided at the 2018 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. While concept cars are no stranger to the event, this year saw OEMs presenting their visions of the future. It’s a line that’s been said many times before, but now that it’s been embraced by the automotive elite, it’s safe to say that the future of automobiles is electric. Here are four vehicles that managed to stand out in a sea of iconic Duesenbergs, artful Voisins, and $48 million dollar Ferraris. We expect to see them running in the Monterey Motorsports Reunion race in, say, the year 2100.
Audi PB 18 E-tron Concept
It seems that these days one can’t have an EV concept without some sort of autonomous driving ability. Audi, however, is bucking that trend by making its PB18 e-tron concept a fully manual machine. Well, as manual as an electric concept can get, anyway.
Audi’s PB 18 e-tron concept is, first and foremost, a driver’s car. Outside of the electronics necessary to power the thing, there are no autonomous driving aids to be found here. The only way this concept will accelerate, brake, or turn is if its human pilot commands it. Audi is quick to comment on the performance benefit this brings, noting that the omission of these driver aids helps keep the car light, letting its three electric motors rocket the concept from 0-100 km/h in about 2 seconds.
With Audi’s performance subsidiary, Audi Sport GmbH, bringing the lessons it learned campaigning the Le Mans-winning R18 e-tron, it’s safe to say that the PB 18 e-tron is more race car than road car. Its inner monocoque driver’s space can be slid laterally for track use, placing the driver in the direct centre of the car. The solid state battery is located aft of the driver and just ahead of the two rear independent axles, providing an optimal centre of gravity. And all those cool vents? They’re functional, sending cool air to the brakes and electric motors.
But let’s be real: anyone who buys this will just be driving it on the street. So for those road trips, a custom set of luggage allows the driver and one lucky passenger to bring about 16.6 cubic feet of stuff. Of course, if one can afford a potential production version of the PB 18 e-tron, they’ll likely just have the help handle the luggage from a Q7 chase vehicle.
Infiniti Prototype 10
Where Audi’s PB 18 e-tron suggests a fully realized vehicle, Infiniti’s Prototype 10 is unabashedly a design exercise. There are no made-up power numbers, acceleration times, or theoretical top speeds to be found — just the message that this speedster is a look at the future of Infiniti. Infiniti is saying that all its vehicles will be electrified by 2021, and the clean shape of the Prototype 10 is how the brand visually interprets driver-focused, electric motoring.
There’s not a whole lot to say that the pictures don’t already explain. From the profile, the Prototype 10 looks like a futuristic Jaguar D-Type, those creased edges taking influence from classic origami-inspired shapes — a nod to the brand’s Japanese heritage. There’s just one seat, a minimalist cockpit, and some vents to cool down the imagined, electric powertrain.
But while there’s not a whole lot of fake specs to drool over, the Infiniti Prototype 10 gives us a lot to think about. Look at it in profile again: there’s a lot that visually can be carried over to a production-ready sports coupe. Just as the original Nissan 240Z gained notoriety as the “Japanese F-Type,” could a production coupe based on the Prototype 10 carry that nickname to the new millennium? Only time will tell.
Mercedes-Benz EQ Silver Arrow Concept
Maybe there’s something in the water at the major luxury car brands — or maybe they just talk to each other a lot. But for some reason, all the electric sports concepts shown at the 2018 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance were driver-focused, one-seat performance machines. That includes the stunning EQ Silver Arrow concept by Mercedes-Benz.
The EQ Silver Arrow is inspired by the 1937 W 125 race car, itself a marvel of technology that not only broke numerous speed records, but was also considered the most powerful race car ever for close to 30 years. This modern electrified version doesn’t yet have the pedigree of the storied racer, but with its 80 kWh battery and power output of 738 hp, a final version should have no issue shattering some records of its own.
There’s a lot more tech to talk about, too. Active body work helps enhance braking and handling capabilities. The wrap-around windscreen doubles as an augmented reality display, showing everything from directions to charging stations, and even transforming city streets into a virtual racetrack. And as sound plays a key role in the thrill of racing, drivers can configure their EQ to deliver the scream of a classic F1 car, or the brutal burble of an AMG-tuned, large-displacement V8.
Luxurious touches include a set of 168-spoke alloy wheels finished in a rose gold colour, leather seating, walnut trim, and the status that only a one-off creation can bring.
Jaguar E-Type Zero
Jaguar’s newest electric vehicle isn’t just a concept — it’s a rebirth of a legend. And unlike the other cars listed here, you can take this one home. Your eyes aren’t deceiving you: the Jaguar Classic division is taking classic E-Type coupes and electrifying them, bringing the “most beautiful car in the world” fully into the 21st century.
This isn’t a slap-dash conversion, either. Each component has been carefully crafted to fit into the existing E-Type framework. The 40 kWh battery pack, for example, was designed to be the same size and weight as the E-Type’s original inline-six, and sits beautifully in the same location. Just aft of this battery pack is the electric motor, which sends power via a driveshaft to the rear wheels, helping this Jag keep some of its proper old-school sports car feel.
LED headlights and an available touch-screen infotainment system add an extra touch of modernity to this E-Type. Other than those new electric parts, the rest of this Jag is as it was when it first left the factory. So the original suspension, brakes, and other mechanical bits are just as they were when designed in the 1950s. And the electric bits can be swapped out for period-correct parts, should future owners choose to do so.
Jaguar Classic is expecting to deliver the first electric E-Types to consumers in the summer of 2020.