Traditionally associated with the brutal noise and power of big V8 and V12 engines that drink like sailors on shore leave, Aston Martin is ready to add a green-tinge to its high-performance stable.
Aston Martin’s CEO, Dr Andy Palmer, when talking to TMR about AM's future electric vehicle strategy, said that the high-end sportscar maker is looking to American enviro-upstart Tesla as inspiration.
But Aston is well aware that the fast-moving development of electric vehicle technology means their first EV, which will arrive in 2018 and take the place of the current V12 powered Rapide, will provide the company with a valuable learning experience for the next generation of electric vehicles.
“The organisation has to learn, and the technology is moving so quickly, I’m more keen to get an EV into the market and get experience with an EV, rather than having a theoretical, academic argument about what the long term view is on battery technology,” Dr Palmer said.
“By doing it, we’re going to learn a lot, and that may allow us to make a better judgement about what the long-term architecture looks like.”
In February the company announced that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Chinese technology company LeEco, a company whose experience includes consumer electronics like smartphones and smart TVs.
It’s that focus on ‘smart technology’ that Aston hopes to leverage with the Rapide EV, and other future electric vehicles.
“The battery technology is just moving so quickly. So it’s basically Rapide into the market, look at what the customer reaction is, look at what the technology trends are, and then you’ll see the product of that experience,” Dr Palmer said, describing AM’s longer-term electric vision.
But the addition of an electric vehicle range opens up more than just the green market for Aston Martin, with the opportunity to tweak software to create bespoke vehicles for individual customers.
“I think what’s most interesting in that space is software upgrades, over-the-air software upgrades, and that is really cool and a really practical solution to a lot of issues,” he said.
“A software upgrade is a great way of bespoking a car.”
Meaning that, along with selecting a personalised choice of exterior colour and interior finishes, electric Aston Martins may also arrive with a range of ‘plug-in’ software extras to further tailor a vehicle to a buyer's demands.
Anything from custom throttle maps to virtual gear changes become possible, with Aston Martin’s Q Division customisation arm potentially able to modify a vehicle in ways previously not possible with an ‘analog’ vehicle.
The final iteration of that plan is something Aston Martin is keeping under wraps right now though, but potential buyers won’t have too much longer to wait to find out what the company has in store.