Audi has announced a concept car that would put the driver in the center as well as in every other direction in the car. Could car seats swivel in the future? It’s not so far fetched, since cars are already capable of driving themselves thanks to auto pilot. Drivers may want to interact with passengers and items throughout their drive and swivel car seats see a real potential in making that happen. Have a screaming two-year-old in the backseat? Audi plans to help take care of all the distractions within the car. This is a concept that many automakers considered, but for its newly revealed concept featuring a fully electric two-seater, Audi is attempting a different style.
At the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, Audi revealed the PB 18 e-tron, in which the driver’s seat does not swivel. Instead on swiveling, the seat slides. In standard mode the cockpit is all the way to the left leaving room for the passenger. The cockpit consists of the bucket seat, steering wheel and pedals. The whole setup shifts gradually to the right, sliding along the bench structure that stretches the width of the cabin once you hit the “Level Zero” button on the steering wheel. After you push the button and the setup begins to shift, you are left sitting in the dead center of the car giving you optimal position.
The Audi PB18 e-tron is a high-performance sports car and the technical concept benefits from Audi’s years of winning the Le Mans racing series. The Audi PB18 e-tron shares its electric drive with the Audi Aicon concept.
There is a classification system that ranks cars’ self-driving capabilities from Level 1 to Level 5 and Audi has classified its car as “Level Zero.” “You push a button and it’s all you,” says Filip Brabec, product chief for Audi of America.
Audi is currently working towards more autonomy for its vehicles. Its latest generation, the A8 sedan, offers a highly advanced version of a system similar to Tesla’s Autopilot. Audi introduced the Aicon concept, at last year’s Frankfurt Motor Show in which the car had no steering wheel or pedals.
Audi doesn’t want to leave the idea of human driving altogether. In fact, this concept is trying to appeal to the people who love Pebble Beach car week according to Brabec. He also stated that the goal is for the car to appeal to the type who really dig driving and might be enticed by the quick acceleration and the smile that forms from ear to ear while handling the vehicle. Another appealing part is that they are going electric — no more expensive trips to the gas station.
The sliding seat concept is in reach due to a drive-by-wire system that severs the physical link between the wheel and those on the ground in favor of digital communication. The space that is not taken up by the driver’s seat resembles a park bench and looks to be quite comfortable; you could always put down some padding for your passenger to enjoy as well.
Another cool feature? The car’s grille is transparent, allowing your usually blocked view to now be a wide-open view. You know the struggle of lining your car up on the track to get a car wash? Well, thanks to the transparent grille that will no longer be an issue. You can see exactly where your wheels are allowing more awareness of your surroundings.
The battery within the concept car will feature a 95-kWh battery pack, which is similar to what you would see on a top of the line Tesla. The battery offers a range of 310 miles and can be refilled with an 800-volt charger. There will be three motors with one on the front axle and two in the back that combine to produce more than 600-pound feet of torque, making it good for a 0 to 60 mph time under two seconds.
Although Audi has amazing intentions for its electric car, this is currently just a concept, but they are pushing ahead with autonomous driving. Audi is preparing to launch the regular e-tron SUV and will continue to make plans for more self-driving electric vehicles.