Aston Martin unveiled a fully electric Aston Martin RapidE - capital “E” for electric, or something - just in time for the meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in London.

The fully electric concept RapidE is based on Aston Martin’s Rapide S sports sedan, a development we have been hearing rumblings about since March.

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The quick jump to a concept car, with the help of Williams Advanced Engineering, arrived just in time for the arrival of the Chinese president, and is an interesting development. Carscoops reported that Aston Martin and a Chinese investment group, ChinaEquity, have announced a partnership to exploring bringing the electric Rapide into production.

From the article:

“We see luxury electric vehicles as an intrinsic part of our future product portfolio and welcome ChinaEquity into the next phase of study for the project development. The exciting RapidE concept tangibly demonstrates the capability and ambition of Aston Martin towards developing low- and zero-emission sports cars,” said Aston Martin CEO, Dr Andy Palmer.

Just last week Aston CEO Andy Palmer talked about an electric Rapide “between 800 and 1,000 horsepower,” and using electric power to keep the performance brand’s models meeting expectations of both power-hungry customers and environmentally conscious governments. We’re definitely okay with going electric if it gives Palmer “that power” we know and love from Aston, while “keeping the V12 alive.”

There were no details about the drivetrain or engineering of the RapidE concept, but if it does make it to production it is expected around late 2017 with a hinted price of over $200,000.

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The British luxury automaker has taken a huge hit to sales over the past few years, with Carscoops also reporting the company’s losses tripling in 2014. What’s the issue? Decreased demand in China, says Palmer.

In 2014, it posted a loss of £71.8 million (US$110.9). That’s nearly triple than the £25.4 million (US$39.2) of 2013 and, to make this worse, marked the fourth consecutive year with losses.

...sales fell from 4,200 units in 2013 to 3,661 in 2014, with reduced demand in China being the biggest issue. A counterfeit plastic also forced it to recall most of the models built between late 2007 and early 2014.

Youch. As a result the company may have to cut up to 15 percent of its global workforce, with no expectations of returning a profit until 2017, lining up perfectly with the introduction of the RapidE - a car the Chinese seem to be keen on buying.

Aston Martin also has plans for a new crossover previewed as the DBX concept earlier this year, which will go into production in an entirely new factory in Alabama that will help the brand grow into a larger range of seven vehicles.

It looks like Aston Martin’s path to profit is giving the Chinese exactly what they want. Hey, a 1,000 horsepower hybrid-V12 Aston Martin is far from a bad thing.

PHOTO CREDIT: ASTON MARTIN

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