With companies like Tesla proving that there is a very real demand for premium, high-performance electric cars, the auto industry’s veteran players are starting to embrace the EV transition. In the case of luxury automaker Aston Martin, the company has opted to start its all-electric push with a limited production run of its high-performance, Porsche Taycan-rivaling Rapide E.
Aston Martin President and Group Chief Executive Officer Andy Palmer recently took to Twitter to share a milestone in the Rapide E’s development. Palmer’s Twitter post featured a short video of a first validation prototype moving on its own for the first time with its 800-volt battery system. The Aston Martin CEO’s video was brief, but the short clip does provide an idea as to how the vehicle looks and sounds like when it’s moving.
Considering that the Rapide E in the video is a first validation prototype, it is quite understandable for the vehicle to move in a very deliberate pace. That said, it is quite interesting to hear what appears to be an audible whine from the car’s electric motors despite the Rapide E’s slow speed. It remains to be seen if the audible sounds from the EV’s motors are deliberate, but it does provide the Rapide E with a rather unique “exhaust note,” electric motors notwithstanding.
A moment of @astonmartin history. First Validation Prototype Aston Martin RapideE moves under its own power for the very first time with its breakthrough 800v battery. Great work from the development team which includes Williams Engineering. pic.twitter.com/b2mRaeCsNP
— Andy Palmer (@AndyatAston) January 21, 2019
In the comments section of his post, the Aston Martin executive noted that the Rapide E’s 800-volt battery is a breakthrough in electric car technology, since it gives the vehicle a “significantly quicker fast charging time than any current technology.” Palmer also hinted at “another piece of Aston Martin history” being made on January 21, though the CEO noted that it would remain a “tightly-held secret” for the time being.
In a previous statement to Car and Driver, Palmer noted that the Rapide E would cater to a market that is beyond the premium segment being targeted by companies like Tesla. With a limited production run of 155 vehicles, the Rapide E is targeting customers who desire cars at the top end of the market.
“For me Tesla is a very credible competitor in the premium market, against Daimler, BMW, Audi, and the others. But they’re not in the (upper reaches of the) luxury market where we are. Most of the people who buy a Model S are buying it fully loaded. They’re not limited by their cash; they’re limited by the offer. They’re not a competitor of ours. We’re looking to those people looking for something above Tesla. That customer probably isn’t looking for Ludicrous mode. Our offer will have very credible acceleration, equal to a gasoline Aston Martin, but you’ll be able to drive the car rapidly all the way around the Nürburgring without it derating or conking out on you.”
Overall, it would be quite interesting to see how well the Aston Martin Rapide E stacks up against the competition. With vehicles like the Porsche Taycan Turbo and a possible updated Tesla Model S entering the market in the near future, the luxury carmaker’s flagship car would have to be excellent in all areas to stand out from the competition. In this sense, Aston Martin appears to have done its homework.
To help the company develop the vehicle, the luxury automaker opted to collaborate with Williams Advanced Engineering, the R&D and consultancy arm of the Williams Formula 1 team, to create the Rapide E’s electric powertrain. Aston Martin also noted that it is using an “800V battery electrical architecture with 65kWh installed capacity using over 5600 lithium ion 18650 format cylindrical cells.” The vehicle also packs serious power, with “two rear-mounted electric motors producing a combined target output of just over 610 PS and a colossal 950 Nm of torque.” In a press release last September, Aston Martin noted that the Rapide E would feature a range of over 200 miles per charge under the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP).
Production for the Aston Martin Rapide E is expected to begin in Q4 2019. The vehicle’s price has not been announced by the luxury automaker, though speculations suggest that the all-electric car would cost somewhere in the $200,000 to $250,000 range. Reports have hinted that all 155 units of the Rapide E have already been reserved.