Test Driving the Electric Future

Aston Martin is once again wowing drivers with two new vehicles that have all the pizazz and none of the pollution.

The luxury carmaker held its inaugural Electric Future event in late June to showcase two all-electric models — The Rapide E and Lagonda Vision Concept — at Aston Martin Mayfair in London.

Relaunched as the world’s first zero-emission luxury brand in 2018, Aston Martin’s Lagonda line aims to leverage the latest advances in electrification and autonomous driving technologies while maintaining “a unique niche in the market,” says Marek Reichman, chief creative officer at Aston Martin Lagonda. 

Aston Martin Lagonda Vision Concept. 

“We set ourselves an ambitious target to be the world’s first luxury electric brand,” he says. “[Lagonda] is for the high-end luxury customer who wants to explore and be autonomous while remaining mindful of the impact they are having on the enviro-ment. Lagonda will achieve this but it will also delight the people who get to enjoy its unique internal environment.”

Aston Martin Rapide E.

The Electric Future featured the Rapide E, the company’s first electric sports car, as well as the Lagonda Vision Concept, the latter of which first turned heads at the Geneva Motor Show in 2018. The sleek vehicle’s four-passenger interior doubles as a stylish space, with cashmere interiors and swiveling fronts seats. The Vision Concept is designed as a self-driving vehicle, and it’s expected to enter production around 2022.

Meanwhile, the Rapide E has already delighted drivers across Europe and Asia, making a flashy debut in Morocco and Shanghai in spring. With a design that was based on its V12 predecessor, the Rapide AMR, it’s no surprise that the Rapide E clocks in at a max of 155 mph — all on an 800-volt battery. 

The car boasts twin electric motors that produce 610PS and 950Nm of torque, allowing it to zip from 0 to 60 mph in less than four seconds, and can manage the jump from 50 to 70 mph in 1.5 seconds.

On the inside, the car’s digital gadgets include a sleek display for battery and energy information, and Aston has also developed a smartphone app to monitor the car’s battery life and parking spot, among other features.

According to John Caress, vehicle line director, the Rapide E drives a little more than 200 miles on battery power alone, which can then be recharged from 0 to 80 percent in just 35 minutes — so you’re back up and on the road in no time. It’s expected to enter production at the end of the year, with a limited run of 155 vehicles.

Aston Martin Rapide E interior. 

Aston Martin Rapide E charges at its electric port. 

“Rapide E is proof of Aston Martin’s commitment to its Second Century Plan. Having an electric powertrain is no longer just a vision for our company, it’s reality. We are producing fully electric vehicles which will form part of our future strategy that will culminate when the first Lagonda vehicle enters the market,” he says.

Pricing is not yet available for these models. Explore all Aston Martin vehicles at astonmartin.com.

All photos and featured photo courtesy of Aston Martin. 

REDS is a new electric vehicle — designed by former BMW Design Chief Chris Bangle — that is crafted for long commutes and sitting in traffic.

REDS is the alpha prototype of a new kind of electric vehicle that introduces a novel visual language for cars. Designed by Chris Bangle — former BMW design chief — REDS is a 2.97-meter-long city car built around a multi-layered, design-led space-use analysis. The car is conceived and crafted to get the most out of life in Chinese mega-cities, where a car is not in movement 90 percent of the time.
The China Hi-Tech Group Corporation, a commercial vehicle manufacturer, asked Chris Bangle Associates to lead a series of workshops on the future of electric vehicles in China in 2014. In 2016, CHTC began developing REDS for production with CBA providing the design. CHTC also registered REDSPACE, CHTC’s newly formed Chinese car company, to be the home of REDS.
In 2017, REDS was premiered worldwide in Los Angeles. Mr Wang Jinan, assistant president of CHTC Group and chairman of CHTC Motor, explained why they chose Los Angeles as the city to debut the new electric vehicle. “We want to know what people think about REDS and its evolution. Californians are opinion leaders in the future of mobility — this is why we present here real solutions for the real world,” he said.

REDS is an experience of layering and textual reading that challenges our notion of rhythm and perspective. At times, the interplay between elements radically changes the eye’s direction and forces the viewer to choose between perceptual interpretations. “This car is, for me, the demonstration that we can have something that is extremely emotional with immediate appeal, and at the same time highly functional and intellectually engaging,” Bangle said.
REDS represents a departure from the visual language that has been the stock and trade of car designers for generations, which is surfaces and forms that predictably blend into one another to create a contiguous whole. REDS exchanges this holistic approach to car design for one of abrupt transitions and ambiguous statements that oscillate between graphic and volumetric extremes.
The interior design of REDS arranges color and materials to enhance the idea of joyous space through images of light and shadow. Strong diagonals link the color statements from front to back in an anamorphic manner.

REDS has a reversed windshield, vertical doors and large roof. The shadowy overhang provided by the roof keeps the car cool. There is also space on the roof for a large array of solar panels — enough to drive the air conditioning without draining the battery.
The driver’s door has an armrest that is also a purse-bin, the air outlets in the instrument panel swivel 180 degrees to help defrost the windshield and the space behind the rear seat will hold a folding stroller.
The driver’s seat is a particular highlight, as it is able to fold flat or rotate 167 degrees, even when the doors are shut. REDS’ reversed windscreen allows the steering wheel to fold forward and give the driver’s seat space to change and orient itself backwards. In this position, the occupants can face each other, creating a convivial atmosphere and allowing them to enjoy each other’s company without being forced to speak over their shoulders.
The person in the passenger seat can enjoy the commanding view from the front and have their feet massaged by the built-in unit in the carpet or stretch out in the luxurious comfort of row two. REDS is also the first car that can actually claim to have a wrap around loveseat.
The mobility and shape of the seats promotes a socializing atmosphere around working, chatting, watching films or playing video games on the large 17 inch screen that emerges from the instrument panel.

Photos courtesy of Chris Bangle Associates

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