Aston Martin traveled to the 2019 Shanghai Auto Show to unveil an electric variant of its Rapide S sport sedan appropriately called Rapide E. Production is strictly limited to 155 examples globally, and one of them has already been spoken for by James Bond.
The British firm enlisted the help of Williams Advanced Engineering to turn the Rapide S into the Rapide E. Williams isn’t a household name, but it was well positioned to help Aston Martin because it has developed battery packs for Formula E race cars since 2014. Together, the partners designed a zero-emissions powertrain built around a 65-kilowatt-hour, lithium-ion battery pack that occupies the space unlocked by tossing out the 6.0-liter V12 engine, the eight-speed automatic transmission, and the fuel tank. The pack is enclosed in a protective casing made with carbon fiber and Kevlar in order to keep weight in check while giving owners something interesting to look at when they pop open the hood.
The battery pack zaps a pair of electric motors into action. They channel 610 horsepower and 700 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels via a limited-slip differential. Aston Martin quotes a zero-to-60-mph time of about four seconds flat, and a top speed that’s electronically limited to 155 mph. Significantly, the company promises the Rapide E can accelerate over and over again without degrading its battery or its motors, and it can complete one full lap of the grueling Nürburgring track in Germany without sending its drivetrain into limp mode.
To put some of the aforementioned figures into perspective, the gasoline-powered Rapide S uses a mighty, 12-cylinder engine rated at 552 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque. It takes 4.4 seconds to reach 60 mph from a standstill, and it tops out at 203 mph. Aston Martin hasn’t revealed how many pounds the Rapide put on during its electric transformation; the standard model tips the scale at a not-insignificant 4,400 pounds.
Aston Martin quotes a driving range of about 200 miles. An 800-volt electrical system similar to the one Porsche is developing for the Taycan will channel about 310 miles of range per hour, meaning motorists who find a compatible charging station will be able to drive away with a full charge in under 60 minutes. Those who prefer plugging in at home will need to wait about three hours for a full charge. Either way, a smartphone application will let owners remotely look up key information about the car, like its charging status and its remaining range.
Visually, the Rapide E looks a lot like the Rapide S. The changes include a drivetrain-specific grille, and new-look alloy wheels wrapped by Pirelli P-Zero tires. Crawl under it and you’ll see it gets a redesigned underbody that channels air from the front splitter to the rear diffuser. Inside, the biggest difference between the E and the S is a 10.0-inch digital instrument cluster.
The 155 examples of the Rapide E will come to life in a brand-new new factory located in St. Athan, Wales. Aston Martin will only reveal pricing information “on application,” so don’t expect a bargain.
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