Aston Martin’s first electric car is finally here

The first all-electric Aston Martin was finally revealed, almost four years after its original announcement. Based on the Aston Martin Rapide sedan with an existing combustion engine, the "Rapide E" officially debuted at the Shanghai Motor Show on Tuesday. Only 155 will be manufactured, and Aston Martin did not announce the price of the car.

With a battery of 800 volts and 65kWh, Aston Martin estimates that the Rapide E will be able to travel "more than 200 miles" on a single charge Twin engines mounted on the rear axle will generate 450 kW (or more than 600 horsepower ) and can make the car reach a top speed of 155 miles per hour. That will also happen pretty quickly. Aston Martin says the Rapide E will go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in less than four seconds (which is a tick faster than the Rapide S internal combustion standard). When plugged into a high-speed charger, the car's battery can be recharged at a speed of 310 miles per hour.

The car will be equipped with a set of 10-inch digital instruments behind the steering wheel, and an 8-inch screen mounted in the center of the dashboard will take care of information and entertainment Duties (with physical buttons below it in the center console, echoing the design of the most recent Rapides). Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will be compatible.

On the outside, the Rapide E closely resembles the combustion engine on which it is based, with the exception of a few details in electric blue on the headlights and on the brake calipers. Under the hood is where things are more different. The battery system has been designed around the space where the V12 engines, the gearbox and the fuel tank of the combustion version normally go. This means that the Rapide E does not have a full battery floor, such as a Tesla. While that reduces design and engineering costs, it ultimately limits the number of battery cells (and maximum capacity) that a car manufacturer can place in the car. In the end, the Rapide E weighs 4,717 pounds, which is about 400 pounds more than the Rapide S internal combustion.

The Rapide E was announced in 2015, just as Aston Martin was going through a major cost-reduction effort that resulted in to hundreds of layoffs. To carry out the Rapide E project (then called "RapidE"), the British automaker organized financing from Chinese financiers. Then, in 2016, Aston Martin announced that it would build the car with Chinese technology conglomerate LeEco, the company founded by Jia Yueting, who also founded (and now directs) the emerging EV company, Faraday Future.

It was assumed that Aston Martin's first electric car was going to the highway in 2018 and would be manufactured in larger volumes. But LeEco withdrew from the joint venture in 2017 in the midst of its own cash crisis. Aston Martin headed to the Formula One Williams engineering house to help get the car to market and reduced the range to only 155 vehicles. (Williams also helped build the batteries for the first-generation Formula E electric race cars)

The Rapide E will be built in the village of St. Athan in South Wales. That's also where Aston Martin plans to build all-electric vehicles from Lagonda, its recently resurrected sub-brand dedicated to EVs. Aston Martin is calling the St. Athan facility the "Home of Electrification" of the company.

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