It could be a high-speed car scene unlike any other in a James Bond film, as 007 hurtles not towards danger – but to the nearest electric charging point to cut his emissions.
Aston Martin, long a staple of the spy series, is embracing electric power, and on Thursday unveiled its first mass-production hybrid supercar.
The Valhalla – the concept of which was expected to have a cameo in the delayed Bond movie, No Time to Die – will cost around £700,000 and is to be built from 2023.
Unlike its hybrid predecessor, the limited-edition, £2 million Valkyrie, the Valhalla will be more widely available, limited only by the rate at which it can be built or sold.
It comes as carmakers are forced to switch their focus towards electric, with a ban on new petrol and electric vehicles in the UK looming at the end of the decade.
Tobias Moers, CEO, Aston Martin, said a hybrid system is “standard these days”.
Tobias Moers speaks during the reveal of the Valhalla supercar. The 950-horsepower plug-in hybrid, boasting futuristic lines and a distinct front, will be the middle child of Aston Martin's mid-engine sports car line
Credit: Darren Staples/Bloomberg
However, while it can be plugged in and recharged from the mains, the Valhalla is far from the standard hybrid usually seen on Britain’s roads. It can go from rest to 62mph in 2.5 seconds, and hit a top speed of 217mph, powered by a new V8 petrol engine and electric motors.
Any drivers hoping to take the supercar out for a spin using electricity only, however, will soon find themselves needing petrol to take over, as its all-electric range is less than 10 miles.
Aston Martin insists this will still help to ensure the car’s rated emission stays below 200g/km, compared to its other petrol models which climbs towards 400g/km.
Mr Moers told The Telegraph: “There is an opportunity for cars like this. There has been a very strong demand for our Valkyrie. For the Valhalla, there is a good opportunity.”
The Valhalla was launched at an event at Silverstone ahead of Aston Martin entering its first British Grand Prix for 61 years.
The luxury carmaker’s return to the track comes as it faces a parlous financial future, despite a recent boardroom clearout and financial overhaul led by the billionaire Lawrence Stroll.
Sales slumped in lockdown and it endured a disastrous listing in 2018, when shares debuted at £19 before tumbling 94 per cent in the subsequent months.
Aston Martin bosses hope its return to Formula One may help to revive its fortunes amid growing losses.
For that reason, the primary purpose of the Valhalla’s hybrid system is said to be to improve performance and cornering dynamics, with the electric motor driving the front wheels while the V8 engine drives the rear wheels.
Carbon fibre construction keeps the static weight of the car itself down to 1550kg.
Lawrence Stroll plans to increase automobile production at Aston martin, and is aiming to sell 10,000 cars a year by 2025, spread between front-engine models like the Vantage, mid-engine super/hypercars, and 5,000 SUVs
Credit: Darren Staples
Lawrence Stroll, chairman, Aston Martin, said the Valhalla brings “Formula One knowledge, technology and spirit into a road car”.
A racetrack experience will be set up to allow owners to test drive their car recreationally at leading international circuits.
Mr Moers, who was formerly boss of Mercedes’s performance-car arm, AMG, explained he had joined Aston Martin as it was a “great brand” and “as a boy, for me, it was always James Bond".
He said he saw “unrealised potential” in Aston Martin when he sat on “the other side of the table” while he worked with the company on joint engineering projects with AMG.
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“I said, ‘Why are you not doing more? Why do you not move faster? You have the best brand that I know, so leverage it better’,” he continued.
“So many people understand the brand. So now we have Formula One. It means performance. We are taking it to a new level, chasing for the ultimate, a culture of performance.”
The engine will be built at a new facility in Gaydon, Warwickshire.
Aston Martin is expected to produce its first pure-electric sports car from 2025. The manufacturer said in March that it will build all electric models in the UK from 2025.