2020 Aston Martin Rapide E: Aston's First Electric Production Car

Aston Martin will build just 155 of the 155-mph electric super sedan.

Aston Martin

Year, Make, Model: 2020 Aston Martin Rapide E.

Topline: Aston Martin announced Wednesday that its first electric production car will take the form of its full-size Rapide luxury sedan.

What's New: A limited run of 155 Rapide E sedans will be built, all using the best of Aston Martin's electric powertrain technology. In place of the typical 6.0-liter V-12 and its associated transmission is an 800-volt, 65-kilowatt-hour battery, which Aston Martin conservatively claims to be capable of "over 200 miles" of range.

Aston Martin

Juice is piped rearward to a pair of electric motors (whose type Aston declined to discuss), which in turn drive an Xtrac transmission and a limited-slip differential to split power between the rear wheels only. Power is not insignificant; 602 horsepower and 701 pound-feet of torque will push the Rapide E from zero to 60 in under four seconds, and to a top speed of 155 miles per hour. Passing on the highway will be a breeze, as the Rapide E can leap from 50 to 70 mph in just 1.5 seconds. Attribute some of this performance to Williams Advanced Engineering, an offshoot from Britain's historic Formula 1 team.

The Rapide E's weight differences are taken into account by the suspension, which uses altered damping and spring rates to make handling similar to that of the gasoline-powered Rapide. Deliveries of the Rapide E begin in Q4 of 2018.

Quotable: "Environmental responsibility and sustainability is a global challenge faced by us all," stated Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer in the automaker's press release. "As a career automotive engineer, I'm proud that the car industry is leading the way in finding long-term solutions and reducing harmful emissions. As Aston Martin's CEO, I take particular satisfaction working with Williams Advanced Engineering and our other associated technology partners to bring Rapide E to reality."

"As our first all-electric production model, Rapide E will fast-track our knowledge and help us ensure the character and high-performance capabilities of our future EV models and enhance the unique qualities found in all Aston Martins as we know them today. Rapide E will also serve as a critical step on our path to re-launching Lagonda as the world's first zero-emission luxury marque," he added.

"All Aston Martins will have some form of electrification by the mid-2020s," an Aston Martin spokesperson explained to The Drive, when asked about whether this technology is demonstrative of what can be expected by the upcoming Lagonda EV. "In parallel, the company will relaunch its Lagonda brand as the world's first all-electric luxury manufacturer in 2021. We will have a feedback programme with Rapide E customers to extend the learning process beyond just building an EV, to include day-to-day usability and lifestyle trends. In turn, Aston Martin's internal electrification resource and capacity will continue to grow to meet the requirements of the business."

What You Need to Know: Aston Martin's range estimate of "over 200 miles" and the Rapide E's relatively small battery compared to some of its competitors could be the company's way of keeping its cards close to its chest. Automakers typically make conservative range estimates, allowing room for testing to exceed initial expectations rather than fall short. Efficiency of 3.08 miles per kWh is unexceptional among high-end EVs, but automakers whose electric motors lack efficiency (Audi and Jaguar) tend to compensate with larger batteries or high-output charging system infrastructures.

Companies more confident in their electric motors tend toward smaller batteries (Tesla, Hyundai, General Motors) for weight and cost savings. Considering the Rapide E's battery is just a 65-kWh unit, Aston Martin may be quietly faithful that testing will demonstrate the company's electric powertrain technology to be on par with or ahead of its competition. Use of a smaller battery, however, may instead be a result of using the Rapide platform's limited pace for batteries, as vehicles designed around battery power can typically house batteries better than converted or altered internal-combustion cars.