Aston Martin Valhalla plug-in hybrid to create future EVs

Aston Martin Valhalla plug-in hybrid to create future EVs

Aston Martin is using its upcoming high-performance Valhalla hybrid to develop the playbook for its future EVs.

Executives said the 937-horsepower Valhalla supercar on display at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance on Sunday shows lessons in driver engagement, visual impact and potential sound from its first EV in 2025.

“If we get this hybrid recipe right, it’s something we could see elsewhere in the future,” said Alex Long, Head of Product and Market Strategy at Aston Martin Lagonda.

Valhalla engineers took great care to maintain the brand’s already established driving dynamics when developing the mid-engined two-seater, he said. Electric cars can seem very low-key when the driver gives control to the electric systems and advanced driver assistance functions that guide them.

“EVs are like daily drivers with a little bit of weekend excitement,” Long said.

Engineers struggled to put the driver back in control of the Valhalla’s hybrid powertrain, which combines a twin-turbo V8 and two electric motors, touting “less control and more forward feedback,” among other tweaks.

“One thing we’re really focused on is tuning the car’s response to the driver,” he said. “If you’re very supportive and focused, there’s a level of disengagement.”

Electric motors provide faster acceleration, hybrids and EVs are heavier and have less capacity than gasoline engines. The added weight of the battery power train presented several challenges, including figuring out how to change direction quickly without straining the braking system.

Valhalla is also a pioneer in the exterior design of the brand’s electric portfolio, said creative director Marek Reichman. Its body has carbon painted surfaces to create shadows that help make the car appear to be moving when stationary.

“There has to be a great visual balance, so how do you separate the car, whether it’s carbon or body paint, or paint it to give an electric vernacular? I think it has to have its own language.”

Sound also came into play. Historically, engine noise has been important to the perception of sports car performance. “It’s a big challenge with EVs because you lose a lot of feel and sound quality, and you don’t have that step-by-step process to prepare,” Long said.

The Valhalla is an “almost silent operation” in EV mode, he added. “All the noise will come from the V8, which will be loud.”