Aston Martin has unveiled its first ever all-electric car, the Rapide E, at the 2019 Auto Shanghai. The Rapide E is also the first car to be built at the automaker’s state-of-the-art St Athan production plant, otherwise known as its Home of Electrification centre. Customers can already place their orders, but prices are only available on application.
Production of the luxury model is limited to 155 units and was developed in collaboration with Williams Advanced Engineering. Powering the Rapide E is an 800-volt electrical architecture system that’s encased in carbon-fibre and kevlar.
The 65 kWh lithium-ion battery pack is made using over 5,600 18650 format battery cells, and is positioned where the original 6.0 litre V12, gearbox and fuel tank were located. This configuration, according to Aston Martin, lets the 800-volt system to operate more efficiently, featuring better charging and thermal characteristics compared to existing electrical architectures. The battery also powers two rear-mounted electric motors that deliver a combined output of 610 PS and 950 Nm of torque.
A full charge yields a driving range of 320 km (based on stricter WLTP standards), and it’s capable of DC fast-charging at a rate of 298 km per hour using a typical 400-volt 50 kW charger. Fast charging is also available, with the automaker claiming a rate of 500 km per hour using an 800-volt/100 kW outlet. For destination charging, the car also features an industry-leading high-power AC on-board charger capable of recharging the battery in as little as three hours.
Now, for performance, the Rapide E has a zero to 100 km/h sprint time of 4.2 seconds, and sprints from 80 km/h to 112 km/h in 1.5 seconds. Top speed is rated at 250 km/h. Apparently, the Rapide E is designed to deliver performance in a consistent and repeatable way, including the ability to lap the Nürburgring with no performance derating of the battery or the motors.
In fact, it will also emulate the feel, character and delivery of the V12-engined Rapide AMR, and features three drive modes – GT, Sport and Sport+. Rear-wheel drive is standard here, including a mechanical limited-slip differential. Together with revised spring and damper rates, the Rapide E is said to deliver the pure handling characteristics of the Rapide AMR. Bold claims indeed.
In terms of looks, there’s no mistaking this for a Rapide. New to it are the honeycomb front grille, as well as larger intakes to help cool the EV powertrain. Since there’s no exhaust system, the underfloor has been optimised for aero efficiency, and it sits on 21-inch forged aluminium wheels (shod with low rolling-resistance Pirelli P-Zero tyres) that are also designed to direct airflow. In total, the Rapide E’s new aero pack marks an 8% improvement over the previous internal combustion model.
Inside, a new 10-inch digital display replaces the conventional analogue instrumentation, providing information such as the battery’s state of charge, current motor power levels, regenerative performance and a real-time energy consumption metre. There’s more use of carbon-fibre in the cabin, primarily to offset the weight gained with the electric powertrain. The Rapide E weighs in at 2,140 kg, which is about 150 kg more than the Rapide S.
Lastly, there’s a dedicated app for owners, allowing key info from the car to be remotely monitored. This includes remaining range, battery status, and time to charge, as well as allowing navigation destinations to be sent from the app to the car for easy route planning. The health and status of Rapide E can also be tracked from the app, providing reminders such as when service is due.
President and Group CEO of Aston Martin Lagonda said: “Unveiling the Rapide E will be a huge moment for Aston Martin. As our first all-electric production car, it is a truly historic step. One that signals Aston Martin is prepared for the huge challenge of an environmentally responsible and sustainable future.”
“As a car company we cannot afford to passively allow that future to come to us; we have to actively chase it. Only by doing this can we learn and prepare, but also preserve those things we love as drivers and car enthusiasts. That’s why it was so important to me that in embracing EV technology we should not let go of those unique qualities that define an Aston Martin. I believe Rapide E embodies that desire and paves the way for a hugely exciting future.”
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