Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer dropped hints earlier in the year that the company was investigating the possibility of an electric version of the Rapide sports sedan. Now the former Nissan exec has confirmed that the car is coming in two years and that it will have as much as 800 horsepower on tap, outmatching even Tesla Motors’ [NSDQ:TSLA] 691-hp Model S P85D.
Speaking with Automotive News (subscription required), Palmer explained that vehicle electrification is a must for brands like Aston Martin if they hope to keep selling big and brawny internal combustion engines in a world of ever stricter emissions and fuel economy requirements.
He’s also previously expressed that electric powertrains would be a perfect fit for Aston’s more luxury-oriented models as they provide effortless thrust while also being relatively quiet.
Like the Tesla, the electric Rapide would feature all-wheel drive, suggesting there would be at least one electric motor mounted at each axle. The batteries, meanwhile, would be supplied by an established manufacturer and offer a driving range of about 200 miles, Palmer said.
If successful, Aston Martin will follow with an electric version of its planned SUV based on the recent DBX concept car, which, incidentally, was shown with an electric powertrain. The new SUV will initially offer gasoline and plug-in hybrid options when launched on the market towards the end of the decade, but a battery-electric version is in the works.
Palmer sees a niche for electric cars priced at $200k and above where Aston Martin competes, a segment he says would be difficult for a newcomer like Tesla to enter. And at present, none of Aston’s rivals such as Bentley, Ferrari and Lamborghini have plans to offer an electric car.