Aston Martin is in the process of reviving historic British marque Lagonda as a purveyor of ultra-luxury cars with electric powertrains and self-driving capability.
To kick off the revival, Aston Martin rolled out the Lagonda Vision concept at this month’s 2018 Geneva auto show.
The concept, a sedan, was more a preview of the design language that will characterize future Lagonda models rather than a direct preview of a specific model. It also demonstrated how electric powertrain technology could lead to new, radically styled vehicles.
Aston Martin has already committed to launching at least two Lagonda models under its much-hyped Second Century plan. The first is confirmed for 2021, and according to an report published Friday it will be an SUV rather than a sedan. A sedan will be Lagonda’s second model and is pegged for a 2023 arrival. A coupe is also a possibility at some point.
Launching the SUV first makes sense as the vehicle can be related to Aston Martin’s own SUV, rumored to be called a Varekai, which is due in 2019. Furthermore, technology envisioned for the sedan and previewed in the Lagonda Vision concept, such as solid-state batteries with 400 miles of range and a high level of self-driving capability, likely won’t be ready in time for the 2021 launch of Lagonda’s first model, Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer has revealed to .
“[The Lagonda Vision concept] is production feasible except on two points,” Palmer said. “It assumes a solid-state battery and I’m not sure we’ll have that by 2021, plus it has Level 4 autonomous features. I don’t think anyone will have Level 4 autonomy by 2021. Maybe by the mid-2020s.”
Level 4 means a car can fully operate on its own in select conditions but requires a driver to take back control outside of those conditions. Crucially, a Level 4 car needs to be able to come safely to a stop should a driver fail to take back control when required. Waymo’s self-driving car, which will start offering rides to customers in Phoenix, Arizona later this year, is at Level 4 capability. General Motors says it’s own Level 4 self-driving car, which is devoid of a steering wheel and pedals, will be ready to enter a commercial service in 2019.
The final goal is a Level 5 car, which can handle all conditions expected of a human.