Aston Martin Hunting for Sales and an EV Partner in China

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Aston Martin is seeking a joint venture in China to ensure a future for itself in the world’s largest electric vehicle market, according to CEO Andy Palmer. The brand has previously stated it wants BEVs to account for roughly 25 percent of its global sales by 2030, with the remaining fleet adopting hybridized powertrains. However, Palmer said those early EVs sold in China may not wear the Aston name.

The automaker has also decided to build the RapidE electric sports sedan, limiting its production to 155 units sometime in 2019. While the model currently exists only as a test mule based on the gasoline-powered Rapide, Palmer claims the finished product will provide Tesla shoppers with what they should have been offered in the first place.

“For me Tesla is a very credible competitor in the premium market, against Daimler, BMW, Audi, and the others. But they’re not in the [upper reaches of the] luxury market where we are … Most of the people who buy a Model S are buying it fully loaded. They’re not limited by their cash; they’re limited by the offer,” the CEO told Car and Driver late last year.

“We’re looking to those guys looking for something above Tesla. That customer probably isn’t looking for ‘Ludicrous mode.’ Our offer will have very credible acceleration — equal to a petrol Aston Martin — but you’ll be able to drive the car rapidly all the way around the Nürburgring without it derating or conking out on you.”

As the test version of the RapidE doesn’t appear to be ready to do that, Aston Martin needs a more compact power source than what the mule currently uses. That’s where the Chinese connection comes into play. According to Bloomberg, Aston is considering Contemporary Amperex Technology as its Chinese battery supplier.

Palmer claims his company is already in talks to share its lightweight materials and aerodynamic technologies with a Chinese partner. Again, that doesn’t mean the region will see battery-powered Astons in the next five years, but it does help the British company set itself up for future endeavors. Since China requires any foreign automaker to enter into a 50/50 partnership with an established domestic company, Aston Martin can only benefit from laying down roots now.

While EVs remain niche market, unable to tempt consumers the same way crossovers have, most governments are pushing for electrification — and China is far and away the most aggressive example. The country has mandated that a certain percentage of automobile fleets be electric, whether or not anyone wants to buy them. In 2019, China will institute a cap-and-trade program on companies with annual sales of more than 30,000 vehicles, requiring 10 percent of their fleet to be electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles. That level would rise to 12 percent of sales in 2020. Automakers unable to meet the quota would be forced to purchase credits.

[Image: Aston Martin]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Probert Probert on Feb 02, 2018

    A lot of talk for something that doesn't even exist, and if and when it does they'll make 150 of them. I'd say that without Tesla he wouldn't even be talking, and since he is talking, how will these special well heeled customers of this non existent car recharge them. Give Musk a call and get back to us.

  • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Feb 02, 2018

    Aston Martin makes some very sexy cars. I'm not liking the increased grill size though.

  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X The push for EV's is part of the increase in our premiums. Any damage near the battery pack and the car is a total loss.
  • Geozinger Up until recently this was on my short list of cars to replace my old car. However, it didn't pass the "knee test" with my wife as her bad knee makes it difficult for her to get in and out of a sedan. I saw a number of videos about the car and it seems like the real deal as a sporting sedan. In addition I like the low price, too, but it was bad luck/timing that we didn't get to pull the trigger on this one.
  • ToolGuy I agree with everyone here. Of course there are exceptions to what I just said, don't take everything so literally. The important thing is that I weighed in with my opinion, which is helping to move things forward. I believe we can all agree that I make an important contribution (some will differ, that is their prerogative). A stitch in time saves nine. Life isn't fair, you know. I have more to say but will continue at our next meeting. You can count on that, for I am a man of my word. We will make it happen. There might be challenges. I mean, it is what it is. This too shall pass. All we can do is all we can do. These meetings are never really long enough for me to completely express all the greatness within me, are they? Let's meet to discuss. All in a day's work. After all, Rome wasn't built in a day. At the end of the day, I must say I agree with you. I think you will agree. When all is said and done, there is more said than done. But of course that is just one man's opinion. You are free to disagree. As I like to say...(I am working on my middle management skills -- how am I doing?)
  • Golden2husky Have to say he did an excellent job on the C7, especially considering the limited budget he was given. I am very happy with my purchase.
  • Marty The problem isn't range; it's lack of electricity in multi-unit building parking. All you need is level 1 - a standard 120v wall socket - and if you're plugged in 10 hours overnight you get 280 miles per week or more. That's enough for most folks but you can use public charging to supplement when needed. Installing conduit circuits and outlets is simple and cheap; no charge stations needed.