Aston Martin: Rapide E, like Electrified
The industry’s move from fossil fuel gulping cars to EVs is not real news; the electric revolution has been ongoing for some time already. Yet, one knows internal combustion truly is dead when what is possibly considered the petrolheads’ favourite brand, reveals its latest creation, powered by twin electric motors.
Aston Martin, the company behind iconic supercars such as the DB9, has revealed its latest creation: the Rapide E. The electric version of the four-door, four-seater saloon has been in the rumours for some time now, but it is only today that the British, luxury automaker decided to give us a glimpse into their response to Tesla Model S.
Beautiful on the outside
As is the case with many established carmakers, Aston Martin has tried to stick to its signature design, without greatly differentiating its electric offering. Admittedly, the transition from “petrolhead” to “electrichead” may be a hard pill to swallow for the company’s fanbase, so the Rapide E sports very little to differentiate it from its gas-gulping sibling.
Apart from the understated, blue E on the Rapide’s side, the changes mostly focus on optimising performance. According to Aston Martin, the exterior and underbody have been aerodynamically optimised - the optimisations include a new set of aerodynamic wheels, which also feature the signature blue colour of the supercar’s electric nature. The vehicle will roll out of the factory wearing Pirelli P-Zero tyres featuring noise-cancelling foam, in a bid to reduce frictional losses and improve cooling performance over the standard Rapide S.
Fierce on the inside
The electric version of Rapide will be powered by an 800V battery with a 65kWh capacity - the bespoke battery pack will be located where the original Rapide’s V12 engine, gearbox, and fuel tank were located, in an apparent effort to minimise changes to the original design and potentially streamline production. According to the luxury automaker, their sports sedan will achieve a range of over 200 miles, in accordance with the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle (WLTP) test. Despite this figure falling short of Tesla’s longer ranges, the 200-mile mark seems to be becoming a point of reference in the industry -sadly-; Mercedes Benz expects its first EV, the EQC, to deliver similar results (despite having a larger, 85kWh pack). When the battery runs out, the 155 lucky owners of the Rapide E will be able to recharge the 800V battery system using a typical 400V, 50kW charger - a DC/DC converter has been built-in. Charging will be completed in just over an hour (at a rate of 185 miles/hour), while a fast-charger using an 800V outlet will deliver a full charge in approximately 40 minutes.
The electric supercar is rated at a power output of 610PS and 950Nm of torque. Its sheer electric power will enable it to reach a top speed of 155mph (electronically limited), launch to 60mph in under 4 seconds, and accelerate 50-70mph in just 1.5sec. Another sign of how -automotive- times have changed is a subtle, yet obvious stab at Tesla in Aston Martin’s press statement. Noting how the Rapide E is developed as a high-performance vehicle, Aston Martin seized the opportunity to stress how the provided speed/acceleration figures “are not restricted to a narrow window only when the batteries are fully-charged”. The statement is a clear reference to Model S’ decreasing performance as battery charge goes down - although, to be fair, a P100D Model S will manage a 3.9sec 0-60 even when battery drops below 10 percent. Making its new car’s sport character even more obvious, Aston Martin notes how the E can “drive a full lap of the Nürburgring with absolutely no derating of the battery”.
As the company’s President and CEO revealed through a post on Twitter, deliveries of the Rapide E will start in Q4 2019. Although a production run of a mere 155 units makes comparisons with high-volume production lines rather meaningless, it is interesting to observe that Aston Martin will manage to deliver these vehicles in exactly a year from today. The short timeframe is indicative of an advantage most major automakers have cited against Elon Musk’s new-kid-on-the-block: existing production lines can be easily tweaked to allow fast and efficient mass-production of electric vehicles. Although Aston Martin’s handcrafted Rapide E will be manufactured in the automaker’s new plant in Wales, other automakers, such as Mercedes-Benz, will be using their existing facilities to ensure efficient, high-volume production of their EVs.
It remains to be seen whether Aston Martin’s limited production vehicle will manage to move its loyal fanbase from petrol to electric.