After taking on a desperately needed new investment from Formula One billionaire Lawrence Stroll, Aston Martin officially delayed all plans for electric vehicles. The company says its first electric car, the Rapide E, has been indefinitely suspended after it refused to confirm rumors about the project earlier this month. And it has pushed the launch of its all-electric Lagonda sub-brand back from 2022 to “no earlier than” 2025.
The British luxury carmaker decided to take up to £ 500 million (around $657 million) from Stroll in return for handing over nearly 20 percent of the company. It comes after Aston Martin experienced what was considered a “really” poor 2019 by CEO Andy Palmer, where the company lost more than £ 100 million despite the increased profits. After an emergency meeting of its board of directors, Aston Martin announced the investment early Friday morning, when a choice was made between Stroll’s bid and a similar one from the growing Chinese automotive conglomerate Geely.
“You know I’m a great advocate of electric cars, going back to Leaf and the Nissan NV range, my favorite project of all. So I am wedded to the idea of electrification going forward,” Palmer said about the investment in an interview with Autocar.
Palmer continued to say that, in the near term, he would instead focus on the company’s V6 hybrid engine, especially since it takes time to develop the all-electric market. “You must also remember that, before 2025, none of our competitors, bar Porsche, will have an electric car on sale. So we are on a timeline very close to them, and still at the luxury market vanguard, “Palmer says.
From the get-go, the Rapide E was a haunted project. First announced in 2015, Aston Martin, together with Williams Advanced Engineering, the engineering arm of the Williams F1 team, designed the prototype. Nevertheless, not long after this, Aston Martin announced plans to co-develop the Rapide E as part of a joint venture with LeEco, a Chinese tech conglomerate. Sadly for Aston Martin, in 2017, LeEco fell in on its own under the weight of a massive debt pile, forcing the British automaker to reduce the scope of its Rapide E plans.
Soon after that, Aston Martin revealed it was only planning to build 155 of the luxury electric sports sedan, once again working with Williams for the production. Rapide E formally debuted at the 2019 Shanghai Auto Show but never made it available for marketing until the announcement on Friday. Aston Martin claims that the Rapide E is “paused until a review.”
Aston Martin revealed in 2018 that it plans to revive the Lagonda brand for a new lineup of luxury electric vehicles, while all that drama was playing out. In an attempt to tease what is to come from Lagonda, the company has rolled out a few stunning concept cars. But those plans have also been put on hold as Aston Martin refocuses on its near-term survival and seeks to prevent an eighth bankruptcy in its more than 100-year history.
“This is a tough industry, but I’ve been in it 40 years, and I hope people recognize that I’m good at innovating new vehicles, bringing those innovations to market, and then marketing them with success,” Palmer told Autocar. “2019 was a shite year for the industry. My job now is to navigate that, and with this investment, I believe we have what we need to do that.”