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This is the Aston Martin Rapide E, an all-electric machine that was revealed by the luxury sports car manufacturer at the Auto Shanghai show in China. It'll be the first vehicle made by Aston Martin Lagonda at the company's new factory in Wales.
The Rapide E very much looks like a regular Rapide from the outside, although Aston says its engineers and designers have worked hard to 'extract the optimal aerodynamic performance' from the big car's shape. The metallic front grille of the combustion-powered car is replaced with a honeycomb affair for the Rapide E, while the electric drivetrain has lesser cooling requirements; meaning the aperture of the frontal area is better suited to cutting through the air. Underfloor streamlining channels air from the Rapide E's front splitter to the larger new rear diffuser (as there are no exhausts to have to incorporate) and a set of forged aluminium aerodynamic wheels are shod with low rolling-resistance Pirelli P Zero tyres. All told, Aston claims the E is eight per cent more aerodynamically efficient than its source material Rapide.
The analogue dials of the combustion-engined Rapides have been replaced with a ten-inch digital screen in the E, which displays information such as the battery's state of charge, the current motor power levels, the regenerative performance and a real-time energy consumption meter. Carbon fibre, liberally applied throughout the cabin, isn't just there for show, as it's part of the stringent weight-loss programme the engineers demanded for the Rapide E.
The Rapide E is powered by an 800-volt electrical architecture battery. This is encased in carbon fibre and Kevlar, and it rated at 65kWh. The battery is mounted where the original 6.0-litre V12, gearbox and fuel tank were located in the combustion Rapide, and the pack supplies energy to a pair of rear-mounted electric motors that should generate in excess of 610hp and up to 950Nm of torque. That means the Rapide E can do 0-100km/h in less than four seconds, with a 90-112km/h time of 1.5 seconds targeted. Top speed will be limited to 250km/h, while the quoted WLTP range on a single charge will be beyond 320km. Charging, by the way, can take place via 50kW rapid chargers, but the Rapide E can also accommodate 100kW charging, thanks to its 800V system.
And, also because of its high-powered electrical system, Aston claims that the Rapide E can churn out these figures irrespective of the battery charge or outside temperatures - indeed, it can do a full lap of the Nürburgring Nordschleife with no derating of the battery or motors. And the company further says that it has paid careful attention to the tuning of the chassis and powertrain, to give the sort of handling Aston owners expect of their machines. The Rapide E, for instance, has a limited-slip differential and revised spring/damper rates, too.
Just 155 examples of the Aston Martin Rapide E will be sold worldwide, but it is the company's first step on the road to making pure electric vehicles. Customers can order their Rapide Es now, with prices available on application.
Dr Andy Palmer, president and CEO of Aston Martin Lagonda, said of the Rapide E at the Shanghai show: "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."