Aston Martin is the latest automaker to get electric religion: The company plans to transition to hybrids and electric vehicles in the coming years, CEO Andy Palmer told The Financial Times.
"We will be 100 percent hybrid by the middle of the 2020s," said Palmer, who also indicated the company will develop EV and hybrid tech in-house instead of licensing it from an allied automaker.
"You need to keep core technology inside the company," Palmer said. "That's why we make our own V-12 engine. We believe that EVs are a core technology, and therefore we want to do them ourselves."
By 2030, Aston Martin expects that EVs will account for 25 percent of its sales, with the rest of the lineup expected to be hybrids.
When will we see the first result of this powertrain direction? The RapidE electric four-door luxury sedan is due in 2019 with an expected full-charge range of 200 miles and 800 hp on tap. Aston Martin plans to produce just 155 of these sedans, which is perhaps more a reflection of demand for Aston Martin sedans than Aston Martin EVs; the gasoline-engine Rapide was a sales disappointment for the company.
"Having unveiled the RapidE Concept back in October 2015, we reach another milestone with the confirmation that we are now putting the first all-electric Aston Martin into production," Palmer said in June. "RapidE represents a sustainable future in which Aston Martin's values of seductive style and supreme performance don't merely coexist alongside a new zero-emission powertrain, but are enhanced by it."
Aston Martin faces a number of challenges as it embarks on this path, not the least of which is the backing of a major automaker with a deep pool of shareable components. Most of Aston Martin's competitors are now wholly owned by much larger automakers already expanding to EVs and hybrids, making it relatively easier for these small-volume marques to field hybrids and electrics in the future.
Aston Martin will have to rely on its own coffers to develop and source components such as batteries, partnering with Williams Advanced Engineering. A partnership with China's LeEco has reportedly fallen apart, which has already pushed the RapidE sedan back a year while also forcing the company to slice the production numbers of the upcoming sedan.
Time will tell if Aston Martin will be able to successfully make the transition to EVs and hybrids -- in previous decades, one constant for such a small automaker has been internal combustion technology, most of which changed very little from decade to decade. Aston Martin will have more than a whole new powertrain technology to worry about in the near future as Brexit also poses the prospect of rising costs for UK-based automakers.