Aston Martin said on Wednesday it is to begin development of its first all-electric production car, known as the Rapide E.

It plans to build only 155 of the cars, which will feature an 800-volt battery with 65kWh capacity and rechargeable lithium-ion batteries mounted where the original 12-cylinder Rapide engine and gearbox were located.

The battery system will power two rear-mounted electric motors that produce the equivalent of 602bhp and 700 pound-feet of instant torque.

It will be the most powerful Rapide saloon available, with deliveries starting by the end of 2019.

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News of the Rapide E comes after a large number of announcements about new conceptual and production all-electric luxury vehicles , including the Jaguar I-Pace, Mercedes-Benz EQ, the Audi E-Tron, and the Porsche Taycan.

The term ‘Tesla killer’ is a little overused and dramatic, but these vehicles – [Aston Martin’s Rapide E, BMW’s iVision and Mercedes-Benz EQ] – are certainly strong Tesla competitors
Rebecca Lindland, analyst, Kelley Blue Book and Cox Automotive

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BMW’s iVision Next all-electric vehicle will make its debut on Saturday; Pininfarina, the Italian car design company which has worked with leading manufacturers including Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Peugeot, Fiat, General Motors, Lancia and Maserati is planning to launch an entire line of electric hypercars in 2020.

They are all looking to meet the demand served by Tesla when it developed the all-electric (and good-looking) Model S saloon, which has cornered the electric luxury car market for years.  

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“The term ‘Tesla killer’ is a little overused and dramatic, but these are certainly strong Tesla competitors,” says Rebecca Lindland, executive analyst of motoring research company, Kelley Blue Book and Cox Automotive.

“And in this group, range and performance like this is a really strong selling point.”

Aston Martin developed the Rapide E with Williams Advanced Engineering, the technology and engineering services business of the Williams Group, which includes the Williams Formula One motor racing team.

Its goal is to enhance the otherwise-handsome saloon’s driving performance.

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It has newly designed aerodynamic wheels, new Pirelli P-Zero tyres, lowered body roll, refined rear-wheel-drive, and reduced cavity noise.

It has a top speed of 155 miles per hour (250km/h) and a zero-60mph (96km/h sprint time of just over three seconds.

Andy Palmer, CEO of Aston Martin, said the car would be the first step towards relaunching the Lagonda brand, which will be a zero-emission marque when it begins production in 2021. 

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The first Lagonda Vision Concepts are expected to be able to travel up to 400 miles on one charge of the battery – enough to drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco without stopping – and have self-driving capability and zero emissions.

“It’s meant to feel like moving up to the Concorde from first class,” Palmer told Bloomberg at the Geneva Motor Show in March. 

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