Aston Martin may join Audi, Jaguar in Formula E

The RapideE will go on sale in 2019 and will be limited to 155 units.

LONDON -- Aston Martin could be the next big name to enter the Formula E electric racing series, CEO Andy Palmer said.

The automaker is developing its first electric car, the RapidE sedan, and its launch could prompt Aston to follow companies such as Audi, Jaguar and BMW into the series.

"We don't have an electric car yet, but we will have in 2019. You can imagine the two coming together. I love Formula E," Palmer said in an interview.

Porsche and Mercedes-Benz have both recently announced they will be joining the global series for the 2019-20 season.

However, Palmer said Aston would not consider joining Formula E while it still requires drivers to swap cars halfway through the race. "For me, the use of the two cars reinforces the range anxiety," he said. "That will change, and then it starts to get interesting."

The season beginning in December is the final one requiring the driver swap. In 2018-19 the cars will be built with a longer-range battery that will see one car lasting the distance of the races, which are held on city street circuits rather than traditional racetracks.

The electric Aston Martin RapideE will go on sale for 200,000 pounds ($268,000) in the UK in 2019 and will be limited to 155 units.

Palmer described the car as a "learning experience" for Aston and likened it to Tesla's first model, the Roadster sports car built by Lotus.

The customers will be hand-picked Aston loyalists who will be asked to provide feedback to the company, Palmer said. "Then you can make that kaizen cycle - 'I like this, but you could have done this better.' That allows us to take that directly into the next development," he said.

Aston Martin had initially announced it would develop its first electric car with Chinese company LeEco but work stopped after LeEco ran into financial problems. Palmer said that put development back six months.

Aston Martin will now develop the car with the commercial arm of the Williams Formula One racing team and will likely build it in its new plant in St Athan, Wales, where the company's new DBX SUV will also be produced starting in 2019.

You can reach Nick Gibbs at ngibbs@crain.com

25

Shares

ATTENTION COMMENTERS: Over the last few months, Automotive News has monitored a significant increase in the number of personal attacks and abusive comments on our site. We encourage our readers to voice their opinions and argue their points. We expect disagreement. We do not expect our readers to turn on each other. We will be aggressively deleting all comments that personally attack another poster, or an article author, even if the comment is otherwise a well-argued observation. If we see repeated behavior, we will ban the commenter. Please help us maintain a civil level of discourse.

Newsletters