At the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, Aston Martin shocked the world by debuting the DBX, the brand’s first all-electric vehicle and its first crossover. It turns out the concept (pictured) wasn’t just an engineering experiment, as a new report shines some light on the automaker’s EV future.
Road and Track recently spoke with Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer, who said his company has approved a technical study for an electric Rapide, partly to conform with emissions regulations that grow stronger each year.
“From the compliance perspective, if we as a sports car company want to continue to make V12s—I’d hate to be the guy that killed the Aston V12—then we can make the V12 itself meet the emissions requirement,” Palmer said, “but you can’t expect your fleet average be very good.”
“So if you’re going to make your fleet average really good, you have to have a low or zero-emissions car.”
The Rapide could very well be that very car, but in true Aston Martin fashion, it wouldn’t be your typical EV. The company is reportedly targeting a massive output of around 1,000 horsepower.
With regard to sports cars, there are some who see electrification and hybridization as the enemy, pulp that muddies the clear waters of performance. Battery packs may improve acceleration and economy, but for many, a big V12, manual gearbox, and the open road is enough.
The fact remains, though, that electric cars can help keep those vehicles alive. In a sense, next-gen EV technology could save the dinosaurs by bringing Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) numbers down.
For Palmer, the “traditional manufacturer’s route” is to decrease engine size. “The V12 becomes a V8, and the V8 becomes a V6, and the V6 becomes an inline-4, and you just downsize and use turbos,” he explained. The concept of a 1,000-hp electric Rapide, however, seems much more appealing.
“It fits beautifully with the ethos of the company—power, beauty, soul,” he said. “The car is already beautiful. And it’s enormously powerful. And then you get to the soul. One of the points of the soul of an Aston is the sound of a V12, but we know we need something that can bring the CAFE average down. So would you rather listen to the sound of an inline-four, or would you rather listen to silence?”
“My hypothesis is if you can have fabulous acceleration, a visceral experience, and silence, it’s almost as beautiful as the sound of a V12,” he explained. “I just think that visceral experience is much higher if it’s silent than if it’s an I-4.”
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