While rivals in the sports luxury segment such as Lamborghini and Ferrari [NYSE:RACE] are shunning fully electric cars, Aston Martin is embracing the technology as a clever means to stand out from the crowd while also reducing fleet average CO2 emissions. CEO Andy Palmer, a former senior Nissan exec, has been quite vocal about the performance of electric cars and how they are good match for the Aston Martin brand, and now, under his leadership, the company has rolled out an all-electric version of the svelte Rapide sedan.
Still a concept, the electric Rapide, dubbed the RapidE, is destined for production within the next two years pending the outcome of a feasibility study. One of the key backers of the project is ChinaEquity. The venture capital firm has entered an agreement with Aston Martin to explore the development of a production version of the RapidE concept. The firm sees significant growth opportunities for electric cars across the world but particularly in China.
Another key partner is Williams Advanced Engineering, the technology offshoot of the Williams F1 team and a supplier of electric systems for various industries. The engineering outfit even supplies flywheel-based hybrid systems for several top motorsport teams including Audi in the World Endurance Championship.
No specs have been revealed but Palmer has previously hinted that an electric version of the Rapide could come with 800 horsepower and a range of about 200 miles. He also said such a vehicle would feature all-wheel drive, suggesting that the concept sports an electric motor (or two) at each axle.
Palmer sees a market for high-end electric cars, priced above $200,000. Right now there are no competitors in this segment and it’s one EV leader Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] is unlikely to have much success in, let alone enter. Beyond the electric Rapide, Aston Martin is also investigating launching an electric version of its upcoming SUV based on the recent DBX concept.
“We see luxury electric vehicles as an intrinsic part of our future product portfolio,” Palmer said at the reveal. “The exciting RapidE concept tangibly demonstrates the capability and ambition of Aston Martin towards developing low- and zero-emission sports cars.