The upcoming Aston Martin DBX may be the poster child of CEO Andy Palmer’s so-called “second-century” plan to break the storied British brand out of its traditional mold, but there’s more afoot in Gaydon than just a super-luxury crossover. Palmer has previously pointed to a future all-electric version of the sensuous Aston Martin Rapide, but he’s now saying a high-performance, all-wheel-drive variant could make as much as 1,000 hp.
Palmer told Autocar, that the top-spec Aston Martin RapidE could employ an electric motor at each of its four wheels for a total of 800-1,000 hp. “We’re going to need the traction of all four wheels to deal with the torque,” said Palmer, who also hinted at torque-vectoring and regenerative braking technologies. The RapidE concept was revealed as part of a U.K.-China “creative summit” to coincide with Chinese president Xi Jinping’s visit to the U.K.
This high-performance Aston Martin RapidE would go into development after the launch of an introductory model, which could arrive by 2017. This initial RapidE (of which a prototype already exists) would have about 550 hp (matching that of the existing V-12) using electric motors and rear-wheel drive. This high-end EV would have a range of about 200 miles, while its high-performance version would have a slightly lower range. Comparatively, the Tesla Model S P85D has a range of 275 miles.
Aston Martin is not hiding the fact that it is targeting the Tesla Model S with its upcoming RapidE. With its more prestigious badge and higher price point, Palmer wants to place the RapidE in a space that’s still exclusive but not absurdly inaccessible. Palmer told Autocar that he hopes to build 400 units a year in Gaydon, and sell 100 of those RapidE units annually in China, most likely with a starting price of around £200,000.
Consistent with what Palmer told us in an interview at the New York auto show earlier this year, the Aston Martin RapideE would function both as a way to bring in new customers and as a means of achieving stricter emissions standards, particularly in China. The car is under development with the assistance of the U.K.’s Williams Advanced Engineering, alongside investment capital from ChinaEquity out of Shanghai.
“Batteries in particular become more and more of a commodity. We could go out to the LGs and Panasonics of the world to source the cells; we’re not going to make our own cells,” Palmer told AUTOMOBILE back in April. “We can pack them in Gaydon. Motors, there are a bunch of Japanese manufacturers. We’ll buy the units themselves, but always the clever part of an electric car is the integration. Hopefully, at least with you guys, having done [the electric Nissan] Leaf I have the credibility that I know how to do that.”
The Aston Martin RapidE would reportedly look essentially identical to the existing, and strikingly attractive, Rapide sedan. Save for some unique graphics and badging, the all-electric RapidE is set to be an equally sexy, yet decidedly more silent direction for the V-12-powered cruiser.