Aston Martin to offer EV conversion for classic models, just like in 'Gattaca'
Future-proofing older cars once meant fitting an in-dash single-disc CD player instead of an 8-track, but Aston Martin is thinking decades ahead to a point in time when liquid gasoline itself could be a bit of a throwback, as the bearded hipsters of the future will brew it in small batches to put into a vintage 2007 Pontiac. The automaker has developed an electric drivetrain for its classic models that could be retrofitted in place of the traditional engine and transmission, in a procedure that the automaker says is reversible. That's right: You'll be able to swap out the engine and transmission in your DB5 or DB6 (if you have one) for a battery and an electric motor system.
You may think, "Well, it's a little early for this sort of thing -- gasoline isn't $20 a gallon yet, and it doesn't require some special environmental exemption to put it into a car." At least not yet.
"Developed around a so-called 'cassette' EV powertrain, the objective is to mitigate any future legislation to restrict the use of classic cars by offering a zero emissions conversion," Aston Martin says.
Future legislation is indeed the item that Aston Martin is seeking to future-proof its classic cars against, and this "cassette" system is meant to use the original engine and transmission mounts of the first car for which it was developed, which is a 1970 DB6 MkII Volante converted as a prototype by the factory. This cell is designed to be insulated from the rest of the car, so that it does not require unneeded mechanical alterations, with umbilicals providing power to the car's electrical system, with the whole powertrain controlled by a small screen that is fitted to the interior. The pedals still do all the work, but not the gearbox if your original car features a manual transmission. Overall, this EV "cassette" system is designed to be minimally intrusive when it concerns the original hardware of the car.
"We are very aware of the environmental and social pressures that threaten to restrict the use of classic cars in the years to come," said Andy Palmer, Aston Martin Lagonda president. "Our Second Century Plan not only encompasses our new and future models, but also protects our treasured heritage. I believe this not only makes Aston Martin unique, but a truly forward-thinking leader in this field."
We have the Rapide E program to thank for the development of this system, and we have a feeling that the owners of the 1970s and '80s Lagonda sedans will be among the first to make the switch to make their cars more, ahem, usable on a daily basis, perhaps opting to replace the troublesome instrument panels with touchscreen displays. And even beyond that, this program will give a new life to sad, neglected Aston Martins that have been sitting without engines or other major components as project cars.
"We have been looking for some time to find a way of protecting our customers’ long-term enjoyment of their cars," Paul Spires, president, Aston Martin Works, added. "Driving a classic Aston Martin on pure EV power is a unique experience and one that will no doubt be extremely attractive to many owners, especially those who live in city centers. We also foresee collectors adding another dimension to their collection by commissioning EV-converted heritage cars."
2019 is when Aston Martin will start offering the Heritage EV conversion process to owners.