As­ton Martin is no longer just a car com­pany

Zero emis­sions, ver­ti­cal take-off and a 200-mile range. If Bond had a li­cence, this is what he’d fly

Top Gear (UK) - - THE TEN - OL­LIE KEW

So far this year, As­ton’s re­leased a new 715bhp V12 car made for go­ing fast on roads, and it’s work­ing away on the Valkyrie to tear holes in space­time on race­tracks. We’ve even seen the com­pany put a toe into the wa­ter of the high seas, with the 1,000bhp AM37 speed­boat.

Now, As­ton is tak­ing to the skies. This is the Volante Vi­sion Con­cept. To an­swer your ques­tion: no, it doesn’t ex­ist yet. These are ren­der­ings of what a ‘lux­ury per­sonal air mo­bil­ity’ craft from As­ton might look like. But the com­pany says it’s no very late April fool. As­ton is se­ri­ous about ex­plor­ing small, elec­tri­cally pow­ered, ver­ti­cal take off and land­ing craft as a pos­si­ble fu­ture prod­uct.

The Volante Vi­sion Con­cept [VVC] is an As­ton idea that’s been de­signed by the same man who draws As­ton’s beau­ti­ful body­work – Marek Re­ich­man – and had in­put from Roll­sRoyce (the avi­a­tion en­gine folks, not the builders of the Phan­tom), Cran­field Univer­sity and Cran­field Aero­space Solutions.

Don’t fancy fly­ing your VVC your­self? As­ton says that it’ll take over, cour­tesy of “the lat­est ad­vances in aero­space, elec­tri­fi­ca­tion and au­ton­o­mous tech­nolo­gies, cou­pled with As­ton Martin’s sig­na­ture de­sign.”

Many ex­cit­ing claims, but not much in the way of con­crete whens and hows. So, over to Si­mon Sproule, As­ton Martin’s vice pres­i­dent and mar­ket­ing boss: “When we started this project 18 months ago, it seemed out­landish, but this mar­ket has po­ten­tial. We see lots of brands study­ing it – Audi, Porsche, Mercedes are all in­ves­ti­gat­ing aerial ve­hi­cles.”

Sproule added: “As­ton Martin is a lux­ury brand to­day – known for our cars and we also have our ma­rine prod­uct. But we’re in­ter­ested in next-gen propul­sion, and Rolls-Royce and Cran­field are in­ter­ested in the same [things].”

“With this craft we’re test­ing re­ac­tion, but Rolls-Royce and Cran­field wouldn’t have put their names to it if you could just look at the de­sign and know it wouldn’t fly.”

The de­sign brief as it stands is for the elec­tri­cally pro­pelled VVC to have a top speed of 200mph and a 200-mile range. As Sproule sees it, this would get you from Lon­don to Birm­ing­ham in half an hour – a lot quicker than the pro­posed HS2 rail link, should it ever ex­ist.

Or, per­haps you’d fancy din­ner in Lon­don but dessert in Paris? The VVC is sized to fit on ex­ist­ing he­li­pads, Si­mon ex­plains, and can de­ploy its ver­ti­cal take-off and land­ing to avoid the need for run­ways. So, it works with ex­ist­ing he­li­copter in­fras­truc­ture, but would be quicker, qui­eter and cooler than a chop­per, with a more eco-friendly im­age than a pri­vate jet. Con­vinced?

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