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Aston Martin reveals all-electric RapidE

Raging rapids: Aston Martin will use the Rapide four-door luxury sedan as a basis for its first electric vehicle (EV) dubbed RapidE from 2019.

Chinese investors set to take electric version of Aston Rapide to production stage

Aston Martin logo23 Oct 2015

By TERRY MARTIN

ASTON Martin is drawing ever closer to production of its first electric vehicle, presenting the near-final RapidE concept in London this week and announcing a deal with Chinese investors that should see the green-tinged sports-luxury sedan reach showrooms by the end of 2017.

The RapidE was displayed outside Lancaster House, where China’s president Xi Jinping met with Prince William and Duchess Catherine at a British government-organised ‘creative’ summit designed to promote investment in the UK.

During the summit, Aston Martin and Chinese investment group ChinaEquity announced an agreement to explore the development of a production version of the RapidE concept.

The British manufacturer, which has developed the RapidE in collaboration with Williams Advanced Engineering in Grove, Oxfordshire, said that if the agreement proved successful, the model would be constructed at its global headquarters in Gaydon, Warwickshire, “and could be brought to market in around two years”.

“We see luxury electric vehicles as an intrinsic part of our future product portfolio and welcome ChinaEquity into the next phase of study for the project development,” said Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer.

“The exciting RapidE concept tangibly demonstrates the capability and ambition of Aston Martin towards developing low- and zero-emission sportscars.” ChinaEquity chairman Chaoyong Wang said the group was “excited to participate in the development of the RapidE and to make a contribution to Sino-British clean energy and green environmental strategy”.

“We feel confident that there are significant opportunities for electric cars in China and the world,” he said.

“We are delighted that Aston Martin not only provides a high-performance driving experience to customers, but also shows their social responsibility by showcasing a new generation of electric car with zero emissions.”

Mr Palmer confirmed to journalists at the New York auto show in April that the company was working on an all-electric version of the Rapide, which will have the performance – but not the noise – of a V12 while offering zero tailpipe emissions.

The EV is part of Aston’s requirement to lower its total average CO2 emissions output in line with ever-tightening regulations in Europe, while enabling the company to keep ultra-high-performance internal combustion engines powering along in its stable of top-end sports-luxury cars.

Reports indicate that the full-electric version of the Rapide will have an all-wheel-drive layout, could produce as much as 1000bhp (745kW) and offer a driving range of more than 200 miles (322km).

Specification details are still under wraps.

Earlier this year, Aston used the Geneva motor show to unveil an all-electric four-wheel-drive crossover concept dubbed the DBX, highlighting not only its intention to participate in the SUV segment but also the zero-emissions movement.

Confirmation of the RapidE project comes a week after Aston Martin reported an annual pre-tax loss of £71.8 million ($A153m) – due in part to falling sales in China and a recall involving a counterfeit plastic part – and announced that almost 300 jobs, or 14 per cent of its workforce, would be cut.

The company does not expect to return to profitability before 2017, but has secured new funding to the tune of £200 million ($A426m) from major shareholders to help it achieve its goal of increasing sales to 20,000 units by the end of the decade – up from around 3660 units last year.

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