Introducing Rapide E, Aston Martin’s first electric sports car

Aston Martin is finally sharing some specs and a couple of teaser photos of the upcoming Rapide E, the British automaker’s first all-electric sports car. The upshot: It’ll be fast and rare. The company will only make 155 of the Rapide E, which will be powered by an 800-volt battery system with 65 kilowatt-hour capacity. (Pretty sure […]

Aston Martin is finally sharing some specs and a couple of teaser photos of the upcoming Rapide E, the British automaker’s first all-electric sports car. The upshot: It’ll be fast and rare.

The company will only make 155 of the Rapide E, which will be powered by an 800-volt battery system with 65 kilowatt-hour capacity. (Pretty sure that makes Aston Martin the first luxury car company to launch an 800-volt system.)

The battery, which will use more than 5,600 lithium-ion 18650 format cylindrical cells, is expected to have a range of more than 200 miles. The battery system will have a charging rate of a 185 miles per hour using a 400V outlet with 50kW charger. The car’s battery system does enable faster charging of 310 miles of range per hour for those using a 800V outlet delivering 100kW. CEO Andy Palmer told TechCrunch recently that translates to about 15 minutes to charge the battery 80 percent.

The big objective of this project — one that has been years in the making — is to build an electric vehicle that can deliver those V12-engined Rapide S feels. The company said engineers paid particular attention to the development and tuning of the electric powertrain, which Williams Advanced Engineering worked on, the chassis and software integration.

Aston Martin Rapide E.

The Rapide E is expected to have a top speed of 155 miles per hour and be able to travel from 0 to 60 mph in less than 4 seconds, and from 50 to 70 mph in 1.5 seconds. The battery system powers two rear-mounted electric motors that produce a combined target output of just over 600 horsepower and 700 pound-feet of torque.

Aston Martin emphasized that drivers will be able to hit these performance targets regardless of how full the battery is. The aim, the company said, is for the Rapide E to drive a full lap of the famous Nürburgring “with absolutely no derating of the battery and the ability to cope with the daily demands of repeated hard acceleration and braking.”

Customer deliveries are set for the fourth quarter of 2019.

The Rapide E is a bridge of sorts to Aston Martin’s electric future. The Rapide E and the resurrected Lagonda brand will be built in the upcoming St. Athan production facility in the U.K. Lagonda will be Aston Martin’s electric brand, with production beginning in 2021.

“The Rapide E will help us understand the technology and the customer,” Palmer told TechCrunch during Monterey Car Week in August. Customers have agreed to work with the company to provide data and their experience of driving and owning an electric vehicle, Palmer said, adding that information will impact the upcoming Lagonda brand.

Aston Martin doesn’t advertise the price of the Rapide E, saying pricing is available once customers have applied. The company previously said it would be priced around $255,000.

UberAIR to take flight with help from UT Austin and U.S. Army Research Labs

After three months of discussions, Uber Elevate has selected The University of Texas at Austin as its partner alongside the U.S. Army Research Laboratory to develop new rotor technology for vehicles that the company will use in its uberAIR flying taxi network. The news is the latest step in Uber’s plans to get demonstration flights […]

After three months of discussions, Uber Elevate has selected The University of Texas at Austin as its partner alongside the U.S. Army Research Laboratory to develop new rotor technology for vehicles that the company will use in its uberAIR flying taxi network.

The news is the latest step in Uber’s plans to get demonstration flights off the ground in the megalopolises of Dallas Ft. Worth; Los Angeles, and Dubai. The ultimate goal is to have uberAIR services commercially available in those cities by 2023.

To achieve that, Uber has set up some rigorous specifications for its vehicle and the traffic management system used to operate uberAIR, developed in conjunction with several aircraft manufacturers and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Specifically for the vehicle, Uber is requiring a fully electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle that has a cruising speed of 150 to 200 miles per hour; a cruising altitude of 1,000 to 2,000 feet; and a range of up to 60 miles for a single charge.

The company isn’t the only one racing to own the sky taxi space for urban transport. Chinese drone manufacturer Ehang; Aston Martin; Rolls Royce; Audi and Airbus and other, smaller, startup vendors are all trying to make flying vehicles. Ehang has been touting manned test flights of its drone already.

Uber, on the other hand is trying to build out the service in much the same way it did with car hailing so many years ago.

The company actually unveiled its thoughts on air travel and design a few months ago at its Elevate conference.

At UT, a research team led by Professor Jayant Sirohi, one of the country’s experts on unmanned drone technology, VTOL aircraft, and fixed- and rotary-wing elasticity will examine how the efficacy of a new flying technology, which uses two rotor systems stacked on top of one another and rotating in the same direction.

Called co-rotating rotors, the new technology will be tested for its efficiency and noise signature, according to a statement from the university. Preliminary tests have shown the potential for these rotors to work better than other approaches while also improving versatility for an aircraft.

“There’s a lot of things to be done,” said Sirohi. “We are not doing vehicles. we’re doing a specific rotor system on one of the engineering common reference models that Uber has released.”

The reference model is a benchmark for what the aircraft should do in field tests and eventually operations, Sirohi said. “We are pursuing these technologies to see what the gaps are in where we are today and where we need to be,” Sirohi said.