Back in August 2014, we were offered an exclusive interview with Nissan’s then Executive Vice President Andy Palmer. One of the most vocal supporters of electric cars, Palmer had worked at the Japanese automaker for nearly 25 years, and our interview would have covered Nissan’s electric car policy, its foray into self-driving technology, and the connection between electric vehicles, our homes, and our modern lives.
Yet just days before our scheduled interview a bombshell we didn’t expect was dropped. Electric car champion Andy Palmer was leaving Nissan to become head of Aston Martin, the prestige British automaker known for its love of high-speed, high-octane hand-built luxury vehicles and favourite car brand of fictitious secret agent James Bond.
Today, at the Geneva Auto Show, Palmer’s departure for Aston Martin suddenly became all that more logical as the firm debuted an all-electric, all-wheel drive grand tourer concept called the Aston Martin DBX.
“The DBX Concept is a challenge to the existing status quo in the high luxury GT segment. It envisages a world, perhaps a world not too far away, when luxury GT travel is not only stylish and luxurious but also more practical, more family-friendly and more environmentally responsible.” said Palmer at the reveal in Geneva. “I asked my team at Aston Martin to expand their thinking beyond conventions, to explore what the future of luxury GT motoring would look like in years ahead, and the DBX Concept you see before you is the result.”
Unveiled alongside the Aston Martin Vulcan — a limited-edition track car Aston Martin will make just 24 examples of and which is capable of producing 800 bhp from its 7-litre, V-12 engine — the DBX is certainly very different to anything we’ve seen before.
While nowhere near production ready, something Palmer was keen to emphasise, the DBX is supposed to hint at the direction Aston Martin is heading in the future.
“We will, in due course, be entering a car into the new DBX space and I am very much looking forward to seeing how this concept is received not only here today, but also by our legion of existing loyal customers and by those potential customers around the world who have, to this point, yet to consider one of our cars,” he added.
Like the Tesla Model S, the Aston Martin DBX Concept features two spaces for passenger luggage: one in the conventional rear trunk and one under the hood where a massive gas-guzzling engine is normally found in any car to wear the Aston Martin badge.
That’s possible thanks to the drivetrain — a quartet of motors located in-board of the each wheel — and the lithium sulfur battery pack, which is located beneath the vehicle’s floor.
Sadly, being a concept car, Aston Martin isn’t about to tie down performance specification or range, but given the marketplace any production model would be entering, we’re guessing at least 300 miles of range would be required along with a decent three-figure top speed and sub 4-second 0-60 time would be needed for the luxury marque to stand up against Tesla Motors and its flagship Model S P85 D.
Inside however, there’s plenty to keep driver and three passenger occupied. As well as an entirely drive-by-wire steering system, there’s toughened auto-dimming glass that cuts down glare from oncoming cars at night and direct sunlight during the day. Head-up displays for front passenger and driver ensure that all relevant data is presented without distraction, while rear-view cameras replace traditional rear-view mirrors.
Of course, we’d like to point out here that it’s very unlikely that Palmer’s arrival at Aston Martin will magically turn the company into a manufacturer of plug-in vehicles overnight. But we do view the DBX Concept as at least a promising step from an automaker who to date, hasn’t understood the electric car segment.
We just hope Aston Martin’s exploration of plug in cars ends differently to its disastrous foray into urban city runabouts, which saw the luxury firm rebadge and retrim the diminutive Toyota IQ for wealthy London customers in an attempt to circumvent London’s Congestion Charging fees. It didn’t work.
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