Among electric-car owners and advocates, tiny British sports-car maker Aston Martin has become a company to watch.
That’s largely due to its CEO for the last few years, Andy Palmer, who had previously led product development at Nissan while it launched the Leaf electric car.
Palmer had ambitious plans for a lineup of electric vehicles at Nissan that had not been realized when he left to return to his native England as Aston Martin’s CEO.
The tiny, quirky maker of low-volume, expensive, traditional sports cars soon announced plans not only for an electric version of its Rapide luxury sedan but also showed a concept for the all-electric, very sporty, all-wheel-drive DBX crossover utility vehicle.
It planned to put the electric RapidE (see what they did there?) into production next year.
Now those plans have been delayed by a year, due to the replacement of troubled Chinese partner Le Eco with the reliable development team at Williams Engineering.
In late June, the company gave an update on the progress of the all-electric Aston Martin RapidE, an adaptation of its existing, very low-volume Rapide luxury sedan.
First presented in 2015 as a concept car, the RapidE launch will be delayed until 2019 to allow development by Williams Advanced Engineering, which will become Aston Martin’s lead partner for the RapidE project.
Williams Advanced Engineering is the technology offshoot of the Williams Formula One team, with extensive battery and electrified powertrain experience from the world of motorsport.
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The RapidE is likely to be based on the Aston Martin RapidE AMR concept shown last March at the Geneva auto show.
CEO Palmer had previously hinted at an 800-horsepower output and a 200-mile range; production will be limited to 155 units.
Aston Martin said last week that the order books will open next week for the RapidE, with a starting price expected to be around $250,000.
Chinese tech giant Le Eco, meanwhile, has entirely pulled out of the project less than 18 months after signing a memorandum of understanding in February 2016 to partner with Aston Martin on development of the RapidE.
The Chinese company had planned to use technology shared with Aston Martin for the RapidE and DBX in its own lineup of electric luxury cars under the Faraday Future brand.
But after two lavish if glitch-ridden presentations at the giant CES consumer electronics show in Las Vegas in 2016 and 2017, the FF project is now stalled for financial reasons.
Work stalled on preparations for the giant factory it planned outside Las Vegas late last year.
For more than a year, some Nevada officials have been skeptical of financial incentives granted to FF, holding back the cash until Le Eco can prove that it has the finances to fund its share of that project.
Le Eco has since slashed funding for the FF project, requiring the nascent carmaker to reduce its staff severely while attempting to raise hundreds of millions of dollars.
Any money raised would go toward resuming the stalled launch of the FF 91, the high-priced all-electric luxury vehicle it revealed in January at CES.