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Lagonda to spearhead Aston EV rollout
EV-only Lagonda launch still vital to Aston Martin’s future, despite delay: Reichman
17 Mar 2020
ASTON Martin remains committed to relaunching the historic Lagonda brand as a pure-electric luxury marque, despite financial difficulties and subsequent program revisions pushing the launch back three years to 2025.
While the production-ready full-electric version of Aston Martin’s ageing Rapide sedan, dubbed the Rapide E, is not slated for resurrection after a financial bailout from major shareholder Lawrence Stroll in February led to a reorganisation of several key projects, the new schedule gives British car-maker more time to ensure its EV rollout is at the cutting edge of technology.
Speaking to GoAuto in Melbourne last week before the cancellation of the Australian Formula One Grand Prix, Aston Martin Lagonda executive vice-president and chief creative officer Marek Reichman said the full-electric Lagonda brand – originally scheduled to open with an Aston DBX-based SUV, followed by an all-new sedan – remains a key part of the company’s strategy devised under president and CEO (and former COO and chief planning officer at Nissan Motor Co) Andy Palmer.
“We’ve put forward at the two previous Geneva (motor shows) the two concepts for Lagonda, we’ve talked about Lagonda being our all-electric platform and that’s still very much a part of our future,” Mr Reichman said.
“But it goes out a little bit further. And it has to be. We need an answer for electrification, we need an answer for the future in terms of where luxury can go, and how you separate the two products. So ‘L’ is still a big part of ‘AM’.
“Rapide E was all about learning, because electrification is so different to reciprocating engine technology. And – as Andy would say, as the grandfather of (Nissan’s) Leaf – there’s a lot of learning to be had.
“I think that’s an important factor of why Rapide E was important for us internally to learn how to electrify for the first time. You take all that learning, and you put it into the next product.
“(The delay) is more to do with the learning curve, and the actual time you then need to develop properly of an electrical system, a battery system etc, so it’s not as easy in terms of the plug-and-play nature of what we know how to do. That’s why we have the delay.
“That’s an EV company. Lagonda will only ever be full-electric. The first hybrid will come with (Aston’s) Valhalla, but full-electric will come with Lagonda.”
The two Geneva show concepts were the Lagonda Vision in 2018 – a low-slung fastback sedan – as well as the Lagonda All-Terrain Concept from last year.
The company subsequently confirmed that the reborn Lagonda models, starting with the SUV, would be built alongside the DBX at its new factory in St Athan, Wales, employing the latter’s fresh extruded and bonded architecture.
“Out platforms are relatively flexible,” Mr Reichman said. “They are effectively extrusions and nodes bonded together, so there’s no heavy stamping, there’s no floorpan, and the floorpan is made up of a series of components that be stretched in all directions effectively, even upwards now as we see (with DBX).
“So the philosophy is very flexible in terms of the bonding process, and making an extrusion larger, or changing a node, the methodology of engineering is common … so you can create unique platforms, and there is a reason that Lagondas will be in St Athan, you can put two and two together there.
“We are of a size that we can’t create an orphan platform. Each platform has to have a second role.”
Aston Martin Lagonda Asia-Pacific president Patrik Nilsson added that EVs and sedans in the luxury sphere are a natural fit, given the latter’s packaging and how well that serves consumer expectations.
“Lagonda will be a separate brand, and it will have sedans,” he said. “But the big point of Lagonda is electrification. Because we believe that sedans definitely have a place.
“The synergies between luxury sedans and propelling them with electricity is perfect, because with luxury sedans, you want space, as you might not want to drive them yourself but want to be (chauffeured) in them, and you want a quiet, comfortable ride.
“With electric drive, you take away the noises from a (combustion) engine, you can package them completely differently, so all of a sudden you can have masses of space in a very quiet and refined car, and that fits perfectly for the luxury sector, where you want a chauffeur-driven sedan. So hence we are going that way with that.”
Mr Nilsson also underlined the importance of an EV SUV in the Lagonda range from the outset.
“But, also, the market is developing,” he said. “So, we’re hedging our bets. We’ll see how the sedan market goes. We also showed a luxury electrified Lagonda SUV, so we have both options.
“The brilliant thing is the size of our company. We will look at all possible drivetrains and variations in that sense. Of course, we’ve said we will focus on hybridisation in the coming years, and beyond that, we will have EVs.
“But that’s also a way of keeping nimble, because the whole market and the whole technologies are moving so fast, that I think, at least from our side, that if we bet on just direction, then we might get it wrong.
“So we’re keeping a very broad perspective. The good thing about being our size is that we can react much quicker than the ginormous companies; we’re talking about the guys who have one platform for five different brands – they’ll have to commit so, so much earlier than we have.”
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