Carmakers often refer to the success of the Tesla Model S when explaining the decision to build a battery electric vehicle, just like Aston Martin did this week.
But the British auto company isn’t planning to release the typical Tesla-fighter.
Most competing battery electric vehicles (BEVs) on the market are being positioned as more wallet-friendly alternatives to the $75,000 Model S. Think of the Nissan Leaf, the BMW i3 and even the Mercedes-Benz B-class electric.
But Aston sees a different opportunity. Its BEV currently in development, while still slotted to compete against Tesla, will do so with over-the-top luxury. And a price to match.
“What Tesla clearly shows you is we haven’t hit the ceiling in terms of price,” said Aston CEO Andy Palmer. “But I think it’s hard, though not impossible, for them as a relatively new brand to keep pushing up and to go into that super premier area.”
To challenge Tesla in the luxury BEV market, Aston is electrifying its Rapide (the gasoline version is pictured above). In an interview with Automotive News at last Sunday’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, Palmer indicated that the Rapide’s price will fall between $200,000 and $250,000.
At that price, buyers want “something beyond a pure technology play, they start now looking for legacy,” said Palmer.
The four executive-style seats, Bang & Olufsen sound system and leather-wrapped interior of the current Rapide will likely carry forward into the all-electric version. But, said Palmer, they will leave out the quirky touches of the Model S.
“We don’t do Ludicrous because Ludicrous speed is stupid,” said Palmer. “I think that the fact that you could drive a few laps of a decent race course or race it around the Nordschleife [racetrack] is much more interesting than doing 500 meters in Ludicrous mode.”
Instead, the electric Rapide, like its gasoline-powered twin, will focus on performance. Palmer revealed that the BEV will deliver around 800 horsepower, offer a 200-mile range and feature all-wheel drive. The release date will is targeted for 2017, with production goals that will stay in the three-figure range.
Aston will follow up its electric Rapide by creating an electrified series of DBX crossovers. A plug-in hybrid DBX will arrive first, bowing sometime in 2019, followed by a gasoline-powered version and then a battery electric edition.