Aston Martin is moving ahead with plans for its first electric car, but the British automaker is now going it alone. With partner LeEco out, Aston is scaling back production plans and upping the exclusivity of its planned electric sedan, known as the RapidE.
The RapidE, which is based on Aston’s gasoline-powered Rapide sedan (pictured above), was supposed to be developed with help from LeEco, which is also the main backer of U.S. electric-car startup Faraday Future. LeEco’s recent financial troubles caused it to pull out of the project, but Aston still plans to continue, reports Reuters.
Aston Martin will try to compensate for LeEco’s absence by cutting the RapidE’s production run, pushing back the launch date, and jacking up the price, CEO Andy Palmer told Reuters. Aston will only build 155 cars, or about a third of what was originally planned. When the LeEco partnership was announced last year, Aston said the RapidE would launch in 2018. That has now been pushed back to 2019.
The smaller production run will make the RapidE rarer, Palmer, said, which will give Aston the opportunity to charge more for it. In the U.K., the car will start at around $255,000, according to Reuters. That’s over $100,000 more than a conventional Rapide with a gasoline V12 engine, not to mention virtually every electric car currently on the market. Aston is expected to begin taking orders next month, which will require a 10-percent down payment.
What will buyers get for that substantial investment? When the first RapidE prototype was unveiled in 2015, Aston CEO Palmer said it produced between 800 and 1,000 horsepower, and had a range of 200 miles. While LeEco may be out, Aston can still count on Williams Advanced Engineering, the engineering arm of the Williams Formula One team, for battery tech.
Following the RapidE, Aston will launch a higher-volume electric model. It plans to use the RapidE as a trial run for an electric version of its upcoming DBX SUV. Gasoline-powered versions of the SUV, which is based on a 2015 concept car, will start rolling out of a new factory in Wales in 2019, with the electric version following sometime after that.
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