All the nitty-gritty on Aston Martin's ballistic AM-RB 001 from the man who's designing it
Aston Martin claims its 150-unit AM-RB 001 hypercar – co-developed with Red Bull Racing – is already four times oversubscribed, despite a $4m-plus pricetag (ex-UK).
Company CEO Andy Palmer says the circa-1000bhp (746kW) tarmac missile will have a “sexy” name (AM-RB 001 is just the internal designation) and will rewrite all performance benchmarks for road-registerable vehicles when deliveries start in late 2018.
Design director Marek Reichman gave motoring.com.au the inside line on the upcoming halo car:
Motoring: Is the biggest difference between the AM-RB 001 and the likes of the LaFerrari, P1 and 918 Spyder the fact it weighs only 1000kg?
MR: The benefit of being light is that you’re not loading things. Given that it weighs only 1000kg, it means the brakes don’t have to be so big. It means the steering has a great feel. The reason we can keep it to 1000kg is because all the electronics and pipework is sat behind the driver. All the connections for the cooling are in the rear part of the car, so everything is set up in the most efficient way possible. What’s more, everything that takes place in the car, the driver feels. They’re not muted from the experience. It’s powered by a high-revving, naturally aspirated V12, and we wanted this to be the most incredible sounding car out there. You’ll be able to take off any piece of the car and put it up on a pedestal. It will be a piece of art.
How much of what we see here will go into production?
MR: This is 95 per cent the final car. Now I’m just working on the areas where we need a bit more cooling, or a bit more exiting air, so there’s more airflow around the car. There will also be small cameras integrated into the A-pillars in lieu of wing mirrors. But effectively what you see is how it will be when it’s driving around on the road late next year. The first prototypes will be on the road in late 2017, and then 2018 it will be finished. Deliveries to customers will start in late 2018 and into 2019. The track derivative will be rolled out after the road-going version.
Is the V12 in any way related to the existing 6.0-litre unit?
MR: We haven’t disclosed the capacity yet, but the V12 will be naturally aspirated and displace between 6 and 7 litres… and it will rev to 9500rpm. It’s an all-new engine with a much more open angle between the Vee (the existing Aston V12s are 60-degree units) as we don’t care about the width, but we do care about the height, because we want to keep the centre of gravity as low as possible. It will have a flat-plane crank for the same reason. We’re developing the single-clutch sequential gearbox with Xtrac (which provides the gearboxes for Aston Martin’s race cars), and this is a much lighter solution than a dual-clutch transmission.
I presume the KERS system that supplements the V12 makes use of Red Bull’s know-how?
MR: It’s kind of a KERS system, but it’s more like a big capacitor. So, if you imagine something that stores energy and provides a boost when needed. It has enough storage to start the car in the morning and drive at low speeds, but it’s not a hybrid system – it’s an 80hp (60kW) KERS boost system in which there’s no need to lug around big battery packs and so forth.
How difficult was it to package the big V12, plus this system into the car?
MR: It’s difficult, but it’s what we do every day, and it’s what Adrian Newey does every day. If you look at the back of an F1 car with the panels off, now that’s a packaging challenge. The real satisfaction is from creating something where every single millimetre is considered. Nothing is done to excess. Even when we talk about a cut line or surface finish, we calculate weight.
Where on the scale between usability and extreme performance did you and Adrian agree to orient the car?
MR: The first thing Adrian and I agreed on was that we wanted to be able to get into the car and drive it to the pub, have a glass of water and then drive it away. The idea was that customers should think: “I can’t wait to drive my 001”, even if it’s down to the shops for a pint of milk. Yet they’ll still be able to track the car, even if it’s not the track derivative (which will be rolled out later). So, our ethos was to create a car that can deliver 4.5Gs of lateral cornering, and have acceleration that’s off the charts, thanks to its one-to-one ratio (one bhp per kilo). It can compete with a race-trimmed F1 car, yet you can drive it on the roads… and it’s easy. It’s not an opera-style show and tell. It’s just about the driving.
Will you steer clear of driver-assist electronics as much as you can?
MR: Obviously with this kind of power and performance, you need some electronic traction and stability controls. We have all of that, but we also have direct steering and a naturally aspirated engine. We don’t need a lot of electronic controls in the steering, because the car is light. We use the light weight of the car to enhance the driving feel, and this means you can eliminate a lot of the electronic systems.
Are these powered gullwing doors?
MR: Yes, it’s a powered gullwing door, so as it opens you can either step into the tub or sit on the sill and then swing your legs into the cabin. This is something that can be elegantly done even by a woman in a miniskirt. Believe it or not, that was one of the considerations! This car is about driveability. We want the owners to use their cars and this means it shouldn’t be intimidating or difficult to use. It’s about getting in the car and driving it.
What were the parameters for interior packaging?
MR: I’m six-foot four (1.93m) and I’m the proxy for this car. I can sit in it quite comfortably. It’s a lot like being in the bathtub, you put your head back, you put your feet up, and that’s what you do in the car… you’re literally prone in it. You don’t have to use your muscles, as your head is supported by the headrest. The seat is fixed, but the pedals and column adjust to suit your height. What we’ll do with customers is to fix their seat in the car according to their frame, and put the pedals and steering column in a place where they have a suitable range of adjustment. They’ll be able to move them slightly to get their preferred driving position.
This is obviously a low-volume car, but will you still have to crash-test it to meet regulations?
MR: Yes, unfortunately we do have to crash-test four cars. But because the car is so rigid, we can do offset barrier, side and rear on one tub. So, we can crash multiple times with one car. The nosecone helps, as the whole front of the car is crash structure.
What about pedestrian impact regulations?
MR: That’s a sharp front splitter on the car… That actually helps, as the legislation is that you have to basically break the ankle to make the pedestrian fall over onto the bonnet. The most difficult cars are the ones that are tall, because how do you possibly break an ankle in that case?
The ride height will obviously be adjustable, no?
MR: Yes, it will have a riser system for bumps and ramps. There’s also a self-raising function at low speeds, whereby a camera automatically spots speed humps and raises the car. There will also be an active rear spoiler – like an F1-inspired DRS system. But there’s no need for the spoiler to serve as an air brake because the car is very light. You only need an air brake in cars like Bugattis because they weigh 2000kg.
Can you elaborate on the materials used for this car’s construction?
MR: It’s a mixture of F1-technology carbons and Kevlar where we need to use it. But the great thing about an F1 tub is that there’s different thicknesses of carbon depending on the rigidity required, but always reducing weight. So we’re learning from Red Bull’s F1 expertise in everything we’re doing. The whole car is carbon and titanium, and the wheels are carbon and magnesium. There isn’t a single piece of steel in the whole car. The engine block is aluminium, while the upper components are carbon.
That aerodynamic channelling under the front looks unlike any other road car out there?
MR: That was one of the biggest challenges, because you’re basically exposing the chassis to stones etc. We had to do a lot of work in developing the underside, not just in terms of aerodynamics, but also in terms of safety and as a safety cell for the occupants.
Presumably, some 001s will at some point be involved in a crash. Will owners need to then send the damaged car back to the factory for repairs?
MR: All the dealerships that will sell this car will receive the training to repair it… within reason. But if the damage is severe enough to warrant a chassis scan, then it will need to come back to the factory.
Do you have any Nurburgring Nordschleife and top speed projections?
MR: We do have a Nordschleife projection, but I’m not in a position to share it. Top speed will be upwards of 250mph (402kph).
There are arguably two great designers working on this car – yourself and Adrian Newey – both with presumably different ideas. Did this result in a lot of conflicts?
MR: (Laughs) Everybody in the company was worried about the first time we would meet. I’m pretty determined in what I like, and so is Adrian. Luckily we get on like a house on fire. Sometimes we argue a point, but at the end of the day we always find a resolution. That’s why I say we don’t stop at answer number one, two, three or four. Sometimes it’s answer number seven that gives us what we want. We set out to find a solution that isn’t a compromise to either party. We have a very similar philosophy as I like simplicity and purity. Apart from being technically brilliant, Adrian is also an aesthete. He knows what something beautiful looks like. Sometimes those partnerships don’t work but, in this instance, it’s been a very good one.
Aston Martin hypercar coming with Cosworth V-12, 175-unit production run
Aston Martin AM-RB 001
A year ago Aston Martin came out with the surprise announcement that it was developing a hypercar in partnership with the Red Bull Racing Formula One team. Last summer we received a preview in the form of a concept car and since thennumerous details have emerged.
On Wednesday, Aston Martin added more details to the pile by listing a number of key partners for the project which is still being referred to by the code name AM-RB 001. The list includes legendary engine builder Cosworth, engineering powerhouse Ricardo, carbon fiber specialist Multimatic, and high-performance electric car expert Rimac.
Cosworth, which has decades of experience building F1 engines, has been tasked with developing a 6.5-liter V-12 for the AM-RB 001. We’ve previously heard that the engine will rev to 9,500 rpm and come with a flat-plane crank to ensure a wicked sound.
No power figures have been released but the engine, working in concert with a hybrid system, will deliver enough horsepower to ensure a 1:1 power to weight ratio, measured in horsepower per kilograms. The AM-RB 001 is expected to weigh around 1,000 kg (2,200 pounds), so we should be looking at an output of around 1,000 hp. About 900 hp is expected to come from the V-12 alone.
The engine will be mated to a paddle-shifted 7-speed transmission developed by Ricardo, the same company that develops engines for McLaren’s road cars. Aston Martin says the transmission will adhere to the AM-RB 001’s ethos of “minimal mass and maximum efficiency,” suggesting it may be a sequential transmission rather than a dual-clutch unit.
Drive is expected to go to the rear wheels only, aided along by the aforementioned hybrid system. This system is designed to provide boost only, as opposed to a full electric mode, and will rely on brake energy regeneration as its primary source of power. Rimac, maker of the Concept_One electric supercar, is developing the lightweight battery for the system.
Meanwhile, Canada’s Multimatic, the same company building the Ford GT supercar and a partner of previous Aston Martin projects such as the One-77 and Vulcan hypercars, is building the carbon fiber monocoque structure for the AM-RB 001, dubbed the MonoCell.
Other partners involved in the project include Alcon and Surface Transforms for the brakes, Bosch for the engine, stability and traction control units, and Wipac for the LED lights.
Separately, Aston Martin has confirmed that just 175 examples will be built. Of the 175 cars, 25 will be track-only versions. The remaining 150 will consist of all road-going versions plus any prototypes. Though both the road and track cars will be extreme, it’s the latter that’s expected to approach or even surpass the performance of an LMP1 endurance racer.
A reveal will take place next year ahead of the start of deliveries in early 2019. By then, Mercedes-AMG will have launched its own hypercar. While the two cars have similar performance targets, designers of the AMG have taken a very different approach, utilizing the turbocharged 1.6-liter V-6-based hybrid powertrain of the current crop of Mercedes AMG F1 cars and combining it with a “through-the-road” hybrid all-wheel-drive system.
Yes. Ricardo is definitely doing it by the looks of things though (same guys who do Veyron/Chiron transmisson). I doubt Ricardo's own site and Autocar and Evo and R&T can all be wrong. The sources suggesting Xtrac are of a notably lower quality (pinterest, 4wheelsnews etc.).