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Shanghai show: Aston unveils first electric vehicle

Aston Martin presents production-ready electric Rapide E ahead of 2020 Aussie debut

Aston Martin logo17 Apr 2019

ASTON Martin has unveiled its first full-electric vehicle – the Rapide E – at the Shanghai motor show this week, with Australian deliveries for the strictly limited breakthrough model set to begin early next year.

 

No local pricing has been set at this stage for the circa-450kW high-performance electrified Rapide, but Aston Martin Lagonda Asia-Pacific president Patrik Nilsson recently told GoAuto that the company had received expressions of interest on all of the British sports-luxury brand’s forthcoming new models – including Rapide E.

 

Only a handful are expected to come here, with global production limited to just 155 units.

 

Unveiled in Shanghai by Aston Martin executive vice-president and chief creative officer Marek Reichman, the Rapide E is described as “a pivotal model” for the company as it represents the first step in an ambitious powertrain strategy that, as Mr Reichman outlined to GoAuto in Melbourne last month, will see its entire model line-up electrified by 2025.

 

These will be mostly high-performance petrol-electric hybrid powertrains for Aston Martin as the car-maker reinvents its Lagonda super-luxury marque as a full-electric line-up based on dedicated EV platforms – starting in 2022 with an SUV, followed by a large sedan – but count on other all-electric models from Aston, including a version of the forthcoming DBX SUV.

 

Developed in collaboration with Williams Advanced Engineering, the Rapide E will be the first model built at Aston Martin’s new St Athan factory in Wales – its designated “home of electrification” – which will also produce the Lagonda vehicles and the DBX, which starts rolling off the line early next year as the plant moves towards its targeted capacity of 7000 units a year.

 

The company this week confirmed preliminary specifications for the Rapide E released late last year, which includes two rear-mounted electric motors that produce a combined 449kW of power and no less than 950Nm of torque – enough to propel the sleek four-door sports sedan to 60mph (96.5km/h) in less than 4.0 seconds.

 

The surge from 50-70mph (80-113km/h) takes only 1.5 seconds, while top speed is set at 155mph (249km/h).

 

Importantly, Aston promises that “these figures are not restricted to a narrow window of battery charge or climatic conditions; instead, thanks to the cutting-edge 800V architecture, the Rapide E will deliver its performance in a consistent and repeatable way as would be expected from a traditional Aston Martin product” – including a full lap of the Nurburgring circuit in Germany with no performance derating of the battery or the motors.

 

Encased in carbon-fibre and Kevlar, and tucked in where the 6.0-litre V12 engine and other parts (including gearbox and fuel tank) would otherwise be located, the 65kWh battery pack enables a driving range of more than 200 miles (322km) under the WLTP testing protocol.

 

The car-maker also claims that recharging can be completed in as little as three hours using the high-power on-board AC charger.

 

Without the normal cooling requirements demanded by the V12 engine, Aston Martin’s engineers and designers were given free rein to redesign the front end for improved aerodynamics, minimising airflow through the body.

 

A redesigned underfloor also now streamlines airflow from the front splitter right through to the new larger rear diffuser – something only possible with the removal of the exhaust system – while the unique alloy wheels, shod with bespoke low-rolling-resistance Pirelli P-Zero tyres, are designed for greater efficiency without compromising brake cooling capacity.

 

Aston puts the sum of the aerodynamic changes at an eight per cent improvement over the combustion-engined model.

 

It also promises that the E version not only matches but “enhances the feel, character and delivery” of the V12-engined Rapide AMR “thanks to careful attention paid to the tuning of both the electric powertrain and the chassis across three driving modes – GT, Sport and Sport+ – which are selected for both the powertrain and handling”.

 

The rear-driveRapide E’s twin electric motors drive through a limited-slip differential, which combined with a revised spring and damper rates, “ensures the pure handling characteristics of the petrol-powered Rapide AMR are retained”.

 

Cabin highlights include a 10-inch digital screen that replaces the previous analogue displays and provides all the relevant detail on the EV powertrain’s performance – battery state of charge, motor power levels, regenerative performance and real-time energy consumption – while carbon-fibre trim is used extensively throughout.

 

Remote monitoring of the car is also provided.


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