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Aston Martin electric supercar to rival Tesla Roadster

Aston Martin could target new Tesla Roadster with lightweight, pure-electric sports car, and our exclusive images preview how it could look

Aston Martin could launch a lightweight, pure-electric sports car to rival Tesla’s forthcoming next-generation Roadster as part of a wider push towards electrification, Auto Express has learned.

The British brand announced recently that it will sell 155 examples of the RapidE pure-electric car next year. And it has committed to having at least a mild-hybrid version of all its models by 2025.

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Aston Martin RapidE concept review

The company’s CEO Andy Palmer has now suggested to Auto Express that a revitalised Aston brand could consider taking on Elon Musk’s Tesla operation, which recently previewed a new Roadster that it claimed would be the fastest-accelerating vehicle in the world.

When asked if Aston could consider a pure-electric car that’s smaller than a Vantage but faster and more expensive, Palmer said: “It’s possible, yes. 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 went on: “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.”

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A pure-electric Aston roadster, previewed by our exclusive images, would probably make use of the aluminium-intensive platform that’s already been introduced in the DB11 and smaller Vantage, and which is being made electric-ready. That would allow Aston to cut back some development costs by sharing components.

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It’s unlikely that any such car would be launched until the early part of the next decade, though, as Aston works its way through an ambitious product plan that brings a new model every 12 months right through until 2022.

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In the meantime, Palmer confirmed to us that Aston’s forthcoming hybrids will use 48V tech and that they will not be plug-ins. “We won’t offer plug-in hybrids. I don’t see the point,” he said.

“You have the complexity and costs of a regular engine, and the complexity and costs of a plug-in electrified system. I’d rather spend my engineering dollar on going to what, after all, will be the final goal: pure-electric vehicles. So we hope that the hybrid system we develop will have enough ‘sailing’ pure-electric range to satisfy the requirements of cities.”

The mild-hybrid tech could allow Aston engines to dip below eight cylinders for the first time since the straight-six DB7. However, while Palmer acknowledged that a hybrid V6 could be an ideal choice for a future Vantage, he insisted that four cylinders aren’t on the agenda.

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“I’m not going to confirm or deny it, but it’s not beyond imagination that Aston Martin could come down to a V6,” he said. “There’d be the V12 and the V8, so there could be a sporty mid-sized engine – for a future, lighter Vantage, for example. A hybridised V6 could work with that, but using the system as KERS and for performance, of course.”

He continued: “I have no objection to the principle of engines that are smaller and in a V configuration, in fact, but in-line four-cylinder or three-cylinder units? No. I don’t think we’ll see an Aston Martin with a combustion engine that has any fewer than six cylinders.”

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Palmer also admitted that Aston will offer different battery sizes on its pure-electric editions, allowing customers to focus more on range or dynamic agility. “You can buy a car depending on how much range you actually want,” he said. “With our customers, the difference will not necessarily be cost; it’ll be the amount of weight they want to carry around.”

Palmer stated, however, that the company’s forthcoming mid-engined Ferrari 488 rival – exclusively revealed by Auto Express last May – will have at least the option of a pure combustion engine. “I’d like to think that even by 2020 or 2021, when that car arrives, the world will still be a place where some people are looking for a pure petrol engine,” he said.

Would you choose an all-electric Aston Martin over a Tesla? Let us know in the comments section below...

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Editor-at-large

John started journalism reporting on motorsport – specifically rallying, which he had followed avidly since he was a boy. After a stint as editor of weekly motorsport bible Autosport, he moved across to testing road cars. He’s now been reviewing cars and writing news stories about them for almost 20 years.

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