Aston Martin evaluates an electric sports car as Tesla closes in on its turf

Aston Martin
Ronan Glon/Digital Trends
Introduced in 2006, the original Tesla Roadster enjoyed a near-monopoly on the electric sports car segment. The hotly anticipated second-generation model unveiled as a prototype late last year might not be as lucky. Aston Martin recently indicated it’s not going to let the California-based firm venture onto its turf without a fight.

“It’s possible, yes,” replied company CEO Andy Palmer when asked about whether he’s planning a Roadster rival. “There are various challenges involved in making an EV, and the one everyone focuses on is the battery — the management system and the chemistry involved,” he added during an interview with British magazine Auto Express.

Palmer believes Aston Martin could have an edge over Tesla, too. “The interesting thing is that the other three key components of any electric car – weight, aerodynamic drag, and rolling resistance – are areas sports car manufacturers, and us in particular, are really good at mastering. That puts us at an advantage over other brands who are making some big claims – such as Tesla, with a lightweight roadster. I think we could be in that space relatively easily,” he said. That’s fighting talk in the automotive industry.

Aston Martin is working on bringing its first battery-electric vehicle to the market. It will be based on the Rapide, its formidable V12-powered sedan, and it will be designed in-house after the joint-venture it formed with China-based LeEco fell apart. Pricing will start at about $250,000 and the firm will cap global production at 155 units, or a third of what it initially announced. It’s not unreasonable to speculate some of the RapidE’s tech could seep down into a future electric model built in greater numbers.

Unlike some of its rivals, notably Porsche, Aston Martin will skip the plug-in hybrid phase. “I don’t see the point. You have the complexity and costs of a regular engine, and the complexity and costs of a plug-in electrified system,” Palmer told Auto Express. The company will instead focus on standard hybrid drivetrains built around a 48-volt architecture.

It will be interesting to watch this nascent segment of the market develop in the next few years. Tesla tentatively scheduled the first Roadster deliveries for 2020, a time frame which gives Aston Martin time to plan its offensive. Maserati recently hinted it’s also considering a battery-powered sports car, though we haven’t heard much about it since 2016, and McLaren has started testing an electric powertrain for its breed of high-end cars.

Product Review

Chris is the virtual co-pilot phone-obsessives need in their car

Driving while using your phone is dangerous, and often illegal. Meet Chris, the digital assistant for your car that wants to help keep your hands off your phone, and your eyes on the road.

Tesla ends scheduled servicing because electric cars need less maintenance

Tesla will longer offer scheduled maintenance plans, switching to an "as needed" model. This reflects the fact that electric cars need less regular maintenance than gasoline or diesel cars.

Tesla revives its referral program with chances to win a Roadster

Tesla has revived its referral program that ended in February because of cost pressures. This time around the perks aren't quite as diverse, though it does offer regular chances to win a Roadster or Model Y.

Tesla lets you skip the dealership, order a car from the comfort of your couch

Tesla has always bypassed traditional dealerships, and it has now adopted an online-only sales model that lets customers configure and order their car without leaving their couch. Here's what you need to know.

Tesla wirelessly gives the Model 3 a 5-percent increase in power

Tesla again showed the potential of its innovative over-the-air software updating system by making the Model 3 five percent more powerful via a firmware update. The Performance model gained 23 horsepower.

The 2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe is an exercise in form-over-function design

Porsche expanded its lineup of SUVs with a swoopier evolution of the Cayenne named Cayenne Coupe. Don't let the name fool you: it still has four doors. It stands out with a fastback-like roofline that's lower than the Cayenne's.

Formula 1 is putting data in the driver’s seat, and not all racers are happy

After a single weekend of racing, a Formula 1 pit crew typically pulls around 2TB of data from the car. Everything, from tire pressure to the temperature of the track, is recorded and analyzed in the name of boosting performance -- and not…

Protect yourself and your ride with our favorite dash cams

Dashboard cameras can assist drivers in car accident claims, settle speeding ticket disputes, and even catch glimpses of incoming meteors, among other things. Here, we've compiled a list of the most noteworthy offerings available.

The go kart-like Mini Cooper will soon add zero emissions to its resume

Mini is in the final stages of developing an electric version of the Cooper. The 2020 Cooper SE will receive powertrain components from the BMW i3, including a 181-horsepower electric motor and battery technology.
Product Review

By adding features, tech, and all-wheel drive, Mazda puts the 3 in a class of one

Since its introduction in 2003, Mazda’s compact Mazda3 has been a mainstay of the brand’s driver-oriented strategy. Mazda now plans to move upmarket, and the all-new 2019 Mazda3 offers some clues about how that’s going to work.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robotic companions and computer-aided karaoke

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!

Tesla Model 3 vulnerability exposed at Pwn2Own; hackers take home the car

A Tesla Model 3 vulnerability was exposed at the Pwn2Own hacking competition. The hackers, who were able to display a message on the electric vehicle's internet browser, won $35,000 and took home the car.

Is this electric car startup the next Tesla, or will it go the way of Coda?

The electric car startup formerly known as EVelozcity has changed its name to Canoo. It also announced a lineup of four cars including a commuter-friendly model and a lifestyle-oriented car. Its first electric vehicles will begin to appear…

Ford’s born-again Bronco off-roader will soothe your 1990s nostalgia

Ford confirmed it will bring the Bronco back to American showrooms in 2020. We haven't seen the truck yet, but dealers who got a preview of it during a private event say it's a true off-roader aimed directly at the Jeep Wrangler.