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Sound of silence: Aston Martin Rapide will ditch howling V12 for electric power

Why it matters to you

Aston Martin's decision to replace one of its V12 engines with an electric powertrain is a true sign of the times.

The Aston Martin Rapide is about to undergo a major change, and may soon disappear altogether, according to the British automaker’s CEO.

An all-electric version of the Rapide will appear in 2018 and supplant the current V12 version, Andy Palmer told Australian car website Motoring. The car’s importance in Aston’s lineup will also diminish, as the company emphasizes its upcoming DBX SUV and sedans from a newly expanded Lagonda sub-brand, Palmer added.

The electric Rapide was foretold by the RapidE concept that appeared in 2015. When the concept was unveiled, Palmer said it produced between 800 and 1,000 horsepower, with a range of up to 200 miles. The RapidE was developed in concert with Chinese investment firm ChinaEquity and Williams Advanced Engineering, the engineering arm of the Williams Formula One team. Note that Aston also has ties to LeEco, which is the main backer of electric car startup Faraday Future.

The involvement of ChinaEquity and LeEco hints at the importance of the Chinese market for Aston in general, and electric cars in particular. Tough emissions standards and generous incentives are making electric cars more popular in the country. Other countries are ramping up emissions standards, too, and Aston isn’t the only company planning a high-end electric car. Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche all have them on the drawing board, and Tesla continues to do its thing.

In other words, there is ample justification for Aston to switch the Rapide from gasoline power to battery power. Tesla has proven an electric sedan can be very exciting, although the current Rapide’s V12 howl will be missed. Aston will at least give the V12 Rapide a proper sendoff in the form of the Rapide AMR, a souped-up, 210-mph version from the automaker’s new performance sub-brand.

Even with electric power, the Rapide may not last very long. The current version debuted in 2010, making it pretty old by industry standards. But rather than redesign the Rapide, Aston may focus its efforts on Lagonda, which will get a new sedan and SUV in the near future, according to Motoring. Aston’s DBX SUV will probably sell in larger numbers than the Rapide ever did, and may even get an electric powertrain as well.