British sports car maker Aston Martin is also joining the electric avenue by announcing its first fully electric car in the form of the Rapide E, which will reach its first customers in the fourth quarter of 2019; only 155 units will be built.
Based on the company’s four-door saloon architecture, the Rapide, the Rapide E will be optimised for aerodynamic efficiency. It will also be a precursor to the relaunch of the Lagonda brand, which will be Aston’s all-electric vehicle nomenclature.
As mentioned, the car’s exterior and underbody has also been aerodynamically optimised and complemented with newly-designed aerodynamic wheels. The latter is shod with Pirelli P-Zero low rolling- resistance tyres featuring noise-cancelling foam, Rapide E aims to achieve higher levels of aerodynamic, frictional losses and cooling performance over the standard Rapide S.
The Rapide E will be powered by an 800V battery electrical architecture with 65kWh installed capacity using more than 5,600 lithium ion 18,650 format cylindrical cells. These are mounted in a bespoke battery pack where the original 6.0l V12, its gearbox and fuel tank were located. This battery system powers two rear mounted electric motors producing a combined target output of just over 448kW and a stout 950Nm. It is said to scoot to 100km/h from rest in four seconds
Range target is more than 321km under the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure, while the model is capable of charging at a rate of 300km of range per hour using a typical 400V 50kW charger. However, the car’s 800V high-voltage battery system enables faster charging of 500km of range per hour, using an 800V outlet delivering 100kW or higher. The company says a main objective of the project is to retain and enhance the feel, character and delivery of the V12 petrol powered Rapide S.
To this end, careful attention will be paid to the development and tuning of both the electric powertrain and the chassis, with particular focus applied to software integration.
The rear-wheel drive Rapide E’s twin electric motors will drive through a limited-slip differential which, combined with revised spring and damper rates, ensures the pure handling characteristics for which the petrol-powered Rapide S is already renowned.
So, from that aspect, it seems that the engineers are intent on making the vehicle as rewarding to drive as its petrol powered sibling, but without the bellowing V12 engine.
"Environmental responsibility and sustainability is a global challenge faced by us all. As a career automotive engineer, I’m proud the car industry is leading the way in finding long-term solutions and reducing harmful emissions. As Aston Martin’s CEO, I take particular satisfaction working with Williams Advanced Engineering and our other associated technology partners to bring Rapide E to reality. As our first all-electric production model, Rapide E will fast-track our knowledge and help us ensure the character and high-performance capabilities of our future EV models and enhance the unique qualities found in all Aston Martins as we know them today. Rapide E will serve as a critical step on our path to relaunching Lagonda as the world’s first zero-emission luxury marque," says CEO Andy Palmer.
The model will be built at the company’s upcoming St Athan production facility, announced as the future "Home of Electrification" for both the Aston Martin and Lagonda brands.