Advanced Materials & Manufacturing
The legacy that has come to Wales
There are certain brands that are and will likely forever be considered the leaders in their industry. What keeps them at the top of their respective fields? Well, in the case of the automotive world, it’s often innovation. Unveiling new concepts and providing their customers with something never offered before is what makes an industry leader in the competitive world of four wheels.
Today, Wales plays a pivotal role in continuing that endeavour for one of the world’s leading luxury car brands, Aston Martin. The announcement that the manufacturer selected St. Athan in the Vale of Glamorgan ahead of 20 international locations for its new manufacturing facility, signified the potential Wales had to continue that innovation.
Shortly after, the company revealed the true scale of that role when it confirmed that it would be investing further in Wales to make its St. Athan factory the brand’s centre for electrification. And, if that wasn’t enough, Aston Martin decided that it would be the home of one of the world’s most prestigious automotive badges, Lagonda.
To classic car aficionados, Lagonda is a name that evokes images of some for the most ground-breaking cars in automotive history. To be a Lagonda, a vehicle must bring something new, exclusive and exciting.
1933 saw the release of the Lagonda M45, which is now seen by many as the archetypal 1930’s British sports car. Handsome, tough and fast, this expensive motor car caught the wealthy sporting fraternity’s imagination. A vehicle for those who wanted to be behind the wheel at speed, not chauffeured from A to B.
Then in 1961, Aston Martin’s already prestigious DB4 sports car became the base for the Lagonda Rapide. Luxuriously appointed, the Lagonda featured electric windows, picnic tables in the backs of the individual front seats, an electric aerial and an elaborate heating and ventilation system with separate heating circuits for front and rear seats.
Step forward to 1976 and Aston Martin used the Lagonda marque as a vehicle to demonstrate its continued vitality and ability to innovate. The result was a car the likes of which had never been seen before. The Lagonda Series 2 featured a cutting edge, aerodynamically designed, four door saloon featuring instruments inspired by California’s burgeoning Silicon Valley.
The Lagonda marque continued to evolve and push boundaries, but Wales’ involvement began in 2018, when Aston Martin unveiled the Lagonda Vision Concept at the Geneva Motor Show. It signalled a journey towards a new range of state-of-the-art, luxury vehicles driven by zero emission powertrain technologies. That journey will begin at the St Athan facility, which is now Aston Martin’s ‘Home of Electrification’.
While that car is not due to go into production until 2023, the announcements for Wales keep coming. Most recently, the launch of the Lagonda All-terrain Concept, built around near-future technologies, such as its advanced Battery Electric drivetrain, is an ultra-stylish, supremely luxurious, fully electric, emission-free SUV that can transport its occupants to remote and spectacular locations.
However, the innovations from Aston Martin’s Welsh ‘Home of Electrification’ aren’t restricted to the Lagonda marque. The facility that was once the Ministry of Defences’ 90-acre aircraft base at St. Athan, will soon produce an all-electric version of another of the brand’s historic lines, the Rapide.
Production of the Rapide E will commence in Q4 2019 and it’s easy to see why customers are so eager to receive them. A new electric powertrain will replace the Rapide’s traditional V12 petrol engine and is set to propel the four-door luxury sports sedan to 60 mph in around four seconds. Rapid-charging at a rate of 310 miles per hour and a target range of 200 miles from a full battery will ensure that this Welsh born innovation will be able to spend its life where it was meant to be, on the road.
Wales’ part in continuing Aston Martin’s journey of innovation is just beginning but, like the cars it will produce, it’s moving at speed and in style.