Aston Martin has finally confirmed the will go into production, but it will do so without LeEco and instead has forged a stronger bond with WilliamsF1.
James Bond’s personal transport company is set to build a limited run of just 155 cars in 2019, which is a third of the original planned run. That means it will be expensive, with early estimates suggesting as much as $250,000, and even if you do have the money then Aston Martin still might not sell you one.
Serious engineering and heritage
The RapidE is set to be a stunning car, though, with a range of more than 200 miles and the equivalent of more than 800bhp. All of this in a four-door sportscar that comes with the cache, heritage and prestige of the Aston Martin brand.
Self-driving technology will inevitably be limited as Aston Martin simply doesn’t have the resources to develop its own system and this isn’t WilliamsF1’s area of expertise. But a third-party system could still be an option for the company’s most cutting edge car to date.
“Having unveiled the RapidE Concept back in October 2015, we are now putting the first all-electric Aston Martin into production,” said Aston Martin CEO Dr Andy Palmer.
“RapidE represents a sustainable future in which Aston Martin’s values of seductive style and supreme performance don’t merely co-exist alongside a new zero-emission powertrain, but are enhanced by it.”
This is a first foray into the EV supercar world for Aston Martin. So, it’s halo car, much like the Vulcan trackday special. It’s also an example of engineering excellence from a company that really has struggled to pull itself from the dark ages in recent years.
Mercedes deal points to the future
Now Aston Martin has a deal in place with Mercedes-Benz to supply engines for its petrol-powered machines and the British firm turned to WilliamsF1 when LeEco pulled out of the arrangement.
Chinese telecom giant and EV start-up LeEco has struggled with cashflow problems and simply couldn’t hold up its end of the deal that was announced last February to produce the RapidE in large numbers. The company has slashed funding for its ambitious electric taxi and for Faraday Future.
Aston Martin decided to press on with WilliamsF1, but it makes sense to work with Mercedes in the long run.
A Gigafactory on tap for Aston Martin
Daimler has ploughed money into its own Gigafactory through its ACCUmotive subsidiary and it should have a full line-up of powerplants and battery packs before too long.
Mercedes-Benz, together with Daimler Trucks, Maybach and Smart, is set to unleash a barrage of electric cars in the years ahead. The Generation EQ is just the first concept and we will see a lot more from Stuttgart soon.
It will have to provide a suitably aggressive motor and battery pack for the future AMG-branded models and this could slot perfectly into the Aston Martin DB11 successor and the eventual replacement for the Vantage and Lagonda.
This would also allow Aston Martin to use Mercedes-Benz instruments and in car entertainment, which should be a huge incentive.
Aston Martin sales are down
The German giant can easily cover Aston Martin’s requirements, as the Gaydon company currently sells just 4000 cars a year and at its peak it sold no more than 7000 cars a year.
This kind of mass production is a drop in the ocean for Mercedes-Benz, but it’s a serious undertaking for the engineering branch of WilliamsF1.
Engineering capacity could be the simple reason why the RapidE will be sold in such limited numbers, although the Rapide on which the new car is based was hardly the firm’s best seller.
So, it might be wise for Aston Martin to produce a limited number of expensive electric cars that will surely find homes before building a better future with Mercedes-Benz.