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Aston Martin awarded £9m in funding for electric car platform. Image by Aston Martin.

Aston Martin awarded £9m in funding for electric car platform
The British brand has received government funding to develop a platform for upcoming electric vehicles.
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What's all this about?

Aston Martin has received £9 million in government funding to help it research and develop a new platform for electric vehicles. The finance, which came from the UK’s Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC), will be used to create the underpinnings of a new luxury electric car and help the brand research weight-saving and electrification for other products in its future portfolio.

That's a lot of money...

It is and it isn’t. Sure, if someone gave us £9 million we’d be very happy indeed – we might even buy an Aston Martin to celebrate – but for car makers this is small beer. VW spent roughly twice that just in R&D last year, according to the brand’s 2022 annual report. It’s significant investment, then, but not necessarily a massive game-changer.

So what is Aston Martin going to do with it?

The Gaydon-based company says the investment will help with its electrification programme, which in turn is part of a sustainability strategy dubbed Racing. Green. See what they did there? It’s part of a £2 billion commitment to what Aston calls “advanced technologies” in the next five years, with a phasing out of internal combustion technology over that period.

As part of the plan, Aston will invest in Project Elevation, its six-partner collaborative research project supported by organisations including the University of Warwick and a company called Fuzzy Logic Studio. The project will look into the “technical challenges” of developing a lightweight, 800-volt traction battery pack and twin front electric drive unit into a modular BEV platform with a bandwidth from supercar to SUV.

Err... What does that mean?

Good question. Essentially, it means Aston Martin wants to create a lightweight 800-volt battery system to power two motors. It then wants to apply that powertrain to architecture that can be scaled up or down, allowing the company to build small sports cars and large SUVs using much the same technology. It’s basically what the Volkswagen Group does with its MEB architecture that underpins the ID.3, Cupra Born and Skoda Enyaq, as well as the VW ID.4 and the new Cupra Tavascan.

So when will we see all this in action?

Aston is currently planning to launch its first all-electric vehicle in 2025, but its first plug-in hybrid supercar, the Valhalla, is coming just next year. By 2026, the company says all new model lines (that is, products that are on the way, rather than those already launched) will come with an “electrified” powertrain option, whether that’s some form of hybrid or a fully electric powertrain. In the long-term, Aston expects to ensure its “core” range is fully electrified by 2030.

What does Aston Martin have to say about all of this?

Roberto Fedeli, group chief technology officer at Aston Martin, said: “The award of funding from the APC is another major boost to our electrification strategy and constant strive for innovation. Providing further resources to explore the possibilities of our bespoke BEV platform, it will help achieve our ambition to be an in-house BEV technology leader in the ultra-luxury, high-performance segment. We look forward to progressing this project with our collaborative partners and thank the APC for their incredible support.”

And the APC?

“The 23rd round of our collaborative R&D competition coincides with the APC’s 10th anniversary,” said Ian Constance, the APC’s chief executive. “We’ve seen over £1.4 billion of investment into automotive projects since the APC was set up, and I am proud of the impact that we have made here in the UK. This latest announcement includes a diverse set of OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and suppliers that demonstrate the strength of UK automotive. They will further add to our portfolio of innovative projects and continue to drive the UK to deliver on its net zero ambition.”

James Fossdyke - 9 Oct 2023

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