Following Jaguar’s decision to offer an electric engine conversion for classic E-Types and other XK-engined Jaguars, Aston Martin announced in December that they will offer a similar service.
As part of Aston Martin Lagonda’s wider electric vehicle (EV) strategy that will see fully electric Lagonda models offered in the near future, the electric engines and compatible battery systems will be offered to suit older Aston Martins (what Aston calls ‘Heritage’ models) as a way to “future proof” these classics.
Led by Aston Martin Works at the company’s Newport Pagnell headquarters in the UK, the electric drivetrain technology to suit classic models is a combination of work already done in creating the Rapide E and technologies that will be applied to the upcoming range of Lagondas.
“We have been looking for some time to find a way of protecting our customers’ long-term enjoyment of their cars,” said Paul Spires, President Aston Martin Works.
“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 centres. “We also foresee collectors adding another dimension to their collection by commissioning EV-converted heritage cars”.
The first Heritage Aston Martin model to receive an EV conversion is a 1970 DB6 MkII Volante. While the Jaguar system places the battery pack in the engine bay and the electric motor in the area normally occupied by the gearbox, the configuration of Aston Martin’s EV system has not yet been revealed. Aston does say their EV unit – that they call a ‘cassette’ - resides in a self-contained cell that’s designed to fit the dimensions of the engine bay and attach to the engine and gearbox mounts.
Cabling from this cell connects to the car’s existing electrical systems for lights, radio, heater, etc., but how the electrical power is transferred from the motor to the driveshaft has not been revealed, nor if the conversion requires any changes to the diff and even simple things, like what happens to the gearstick once the conversion has been done.
Externally, the Volante EV convertible released in December carries no obvious indication of its change in drivetrain, which is key to the technology being embraced by owners of such vehicles. Charging is done via a socket in the fuel nozzle inlet, which is the logical position and the same approach used by Jaguar.
Internally, however, Aston Martin does concede the conversion will require the addition of a monitor screen to show elements like power output and remaining charge, but they say this will be “discretely fitted” to the interior. Whether this takes the form of a monitor within the gearbox, or some sort of plug-in arrangement using a smartphone to view the relevant data, has not been revealed.
Either way, Aston says it’s vital that any EV conversion is sympathetic to the integrity of the original car, so expect the modifications to be minimal. Just as importantly, the entire conversion can be reversed should the owner wish to convert their classic back to internal combustion engine power.
Past for the Future
Aston Martin say they consider the electrification of classic models like this a key part of their wider EV strategy for the future. The company describes their cassette system as the perfect solution for electric mobility, as it offers owners of Aston Martin classics the reassurance of knowing their car is fully future-proofed and socially responsible, while remaining an authentic Aston Martin in all other areas.
Andy Palmer, Aston Martin Lagonda President and Group Chief Executive Officer, said of the Heritage EV concept: “We are very aware of the environmental and social pressures that threaten to restrict the use of classic cars in the years to come
“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.”
The cost to convert a Heritage Aston Martin to electric power has not been revealed, but Aston Martin are so confident in their Heritage EV programme that they are making it available to customers this year – a full 12 months ahead of Jaguar’s plans to offer a similar service.