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. 

As luxury brands like BMW and Bentley introduce electric cars, the eco-conscious car is making its way into the luxury sector.
By Alyssa Gautieri

Electric cars have long been ignored by car fanatics, who prefer traditional air-cooled engines for their powerful exhaust notes and rumble. However, high-end buyers are increasingly considering hybrid or plug-in vehicles as the trend toward sustainability skyrockets and more luxury electric cars are produced.

In recent years, car companies have failed to acknowledge that wealthy car buyers admire electric power, according to Bloomberg.


Additionally, a new generation of car buyers are entering the market as more millennials begin to purchase cars. At the annual Geneva Motor Show in March, Bentley Motors Ltd.’s new chairman and CEO Adrian Hallmark noted that young drivers care about sustainable and ethical transportation more than buyers have in the past, Bloomberg reports.


“If you look at millennials or the younger generation, there does seem to be more thoughtfulness about what kind of mark you leave on the planet — more so than a decade ago,” Brinley says, as reported by Bloomberg. “As we move forward in the luxury landscape, for this type of buyer, having one in your garage will be crucial.”


Also at the Geneva Motor Show, Bentley introduced the 2019 Bentley Bentayga hybrid luxury SUV, which is the brand’s first steps toward electrification and the world’s first luxury hybrid model. 


Merging effortless performance on the open road and silent, emission-free driving in the city, the new plug-in hybrid model will be the company’s most efficient model ever with CO2 emissions of 75 g/km.

BMW has also introduced the first-ever BMW i8 Roadster. The BMW i8 Roadster, which is virtually silent and has zero CO2 emissions, can cover up to 18 miles in purely electric driving.


Combining locally emission-free mobility and high-caliber performance, the Roadster is among the first fully viable, high-performance plug-in hybrid electric cars, according to Bloomberg.


Bentley and BMW are only two of the many prestigious car brands that are now producing electric, energy-efficient cars. As a generation of young people continue to prioritize green efforts, the electric car may begin to dominate the luxury sector within the next 10 years.   

Photos courtesy of BMW and Bently

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2017 edition of The High End magazine. For more information about The High End, click here.

Ferrari introduces the 812 Superfast, the most high-performance vehicle the brand has ever launched.

By Stacey Staum

At the intersection of unprecedented engine technology and sleek modern design awaits the Ferrari 812 Superfast. In a nod to Ferrari’s 70-year history, the 812 Superfast features a 12-cylinder engine, the power unit that fueled the first vehicles bearing the Prancing Horse name in 1947. The 800 CV engine makes the 812 Superfast the most powerful road-going vehicle Ferrari has ever built.

While the 812 Superfast boasts unrivaled engine capabilities, Ferrari took care to ensure that the vehicle delivered a class-topping performance. The F1 dual-clutch transmission complements the engine’s performance by slashing response times, creating a feeling of power and speed in acceleration, and generating the auditory perception of rising rpms.

The 812 Superfast is also an aesthetically eye-catching addition to a brand with an unparalleled reputation for beauty and form. The muscular wheel arches create an appearance of power that is justified by the V12 engine under its hood. Where form meets function, the sculpted vents along the front bumper and along the wheel wells are a testament to the car’s unrivaled performance abilities.

The interior of the 812 Superfast matches the sporty character of the vehicle’s exterior. The dash elements appear to float and are angled towards the driver, creating the appearance of a cockpit that highlights the relationship between vehicle and motorist. The steering wheel, with commands, satellite pods, and contrasting materials, provides a unique driver experience that exudes class and sophistication.

Under the hood and within the cabin, the Ferrari 812 Superfast boasts unprecedented performance and style for the discerning motorist.

The manufacturer’s base suggested retail price is $308,000.

Photos courtesy of Ferrari 

For decades, one company has been transforming luxury SUVs into customized technological experiences.

Becker Automotive Design’s comprehensive transport vehicles look almost like any other sleek SUV or van. But open the doors and you will be transported to the most luxurious ride of your life.

Becker Automotive Design began in the late 1970s by working on European luxury vehicles such as Porsches and Ferraris, adding customized cosmetic touches and embellishing them with upgraded security and technology features. Its customers included well-known clientele in the film and music industries, who began requesting even more innovations to allow them to be productive on the road, between sets, studios and meetings.

In 1996, the company fully embraced a new mission — to transform high-quality SUVs and vans into comprehensive luxury transports. Becker’s customers seek premier vehicles with luxurious, high-tech interiors and upscale, yet inconspicuous exteriors.

“We’re advancing the state-of-the-art standard for productive capacity,” says Howard Becker, founder and CEO. “You can do everything you can do in your office, sometimes faster than in your office, via a mobile router on your commute. If you can utilize that time well, you’ve just leveraged your capability into higher productivity.” Becker Automotive Design operates on the concept that time is money, especially for its extensive list of high-profile clients, including icons such as Barbra Streisand, Jerry Seinfeld, Stevie Wonder, and various members of foreign royal families.

The company works almost exclusively with two vehicles — the Cadillac Escalade ESV and the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter JetVan — that are the largest and highest-quality SUV and van made today, according to Becker. “Cadillac has done a very good job at advancing every millimeter of their ESV. It has unbelievably good ride quality, a very quiet interior, a reliable drivetrain and beautiful styling. It’s the number one SUV in the world,” he says.

These vehicles provide Becker’s clients with a number of options for size and space. The Cadillac Escalade ESV comes in standard Escalade ESV size (starting at $160,000), as well as two additional options — a raised-roof option that increases the headroom by more than four inches, and an extended-wheelbase option that adds 20 inches of legroom to the rear cabin. Designed to resemble the cabin of a private jet, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter JetVan seats six to eight people, with a price range of $200,000 to $450,000.

Becker Automotive Design prides itself on paying attention both to its customers’ needs and ideas and the advancements occurring in technology, engineering and manufacturing. “Our customers are people who have private jets, multiple homes and multiple offices, so they are surrounded by staff at every level. They will demand anything that will continue to improve their ability to get things done on their drive,” he says. Becker’s team frequently will invite clients’ personal staff, such as their IT personnel, to discuss clients’ particular needs, such as how they like to access information, what their favorite entertainment and news sources are, and how they prefer to monitor their homes. All of these factors contribute to the customized design of a client’s vehicle.

Each vehicle produced by Becker Automotive Design can be customized across the board, from choices in wheel base sizes to control systems. The Cadillac Escalade ESV boasts options such as high-speed
Wi-Fi; high-definition video on a 32-inch LCD monitor; and a surround-sound audio system that includes Dynaudio speakers and digital amplifiers. Mercedes-Benz Sprinter JetVan passengers may enjoy a Crestron-controlled entertainment system, multiple video monitors, sound insulation, or even a restroom. Both vehicles can be equipped with bullet-proof armor. “Everything that we learned from working with European luxury cars, all of that just fits hand-in-glove for doing these complete vehicle conversions,” Becker says.

On occasion, a client will have special needs that cannot be met by the plethora of existing features, and he or she will approach Becker with a novel idea. The company fully embraces the creative requests it receives from customers; in fact, customers’ unique ideas drive much of the company’s innovation.

“A CEO of a large New York Stock Exchange Company called and said he’s moving his offices from one metropolitan area to another. He now has 45 minutes to use on his commute, so he wanted one of our vehicles. He said he could not replace the time he used to have for cardio in the morning,” says Becker. “We took a recumbent bike, sawed it in half, and modified one of our seats so he could sit with a proper, three-point seatbelt on and crank away on the pedals.” The design team relocated the heart rate monitor beneath the seat and repositioned additional electronics so the client could monitor and program his workouts. The transformation provided him with a vehicle outfitted for optimal professional productivity, as well as a way to continue engaging in healthy habits during his new commute.

Becker and his team are excited about what may be in store for their business in the future. He foresees demand for customized luxury vehicles growing as the automotive industry continues to innovate. “We think when driver-less cars arrive, people are going to relish even more that they can get things done on their commute. They’re going to want to do everything that we provide, in ultimate privacy and comfort,” he says.

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