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Aston Martin wants to keep the V12 alive for as long as possible

Extending its life likely means going hybrid.

Aston Martin introduced the Rapide E, its first production-bound electric car, at the 2019 Shanghai auto show. The company plans to release additional battery-powered models in the coming years, but it's not giving up on the V12 engine.

"It gets harder and harder to meet emissions, obviously, but I think we have the capability to keep V12 engines going within the business. We've just got to be very aware of the compliance and the emissions rules that will come out in the future," affirmed Marek Reichman, Aston's executive vice president and chief creative officer, in an interview with Top Gear.

Aston Martin's range of V12 engines includes the 5.2-liter, twin-turbocharged unit found in the DB11, and the 6.5-liter, naturally-aspirated engine that will power the upcoming Valkyrie (pictured). Reichman called the V12 "one of the hearts of who we are." Keeping it alive will require keeping its emissions level below permissible levels, and that likely means going hybrid.

In this regard, the Valkyrie points the way. Its V12 develops mighty 1,000 horsepower at 10,500 rpm on its own, and it works with a KERS-type hybrid system like the one found in Formula 1 cars. The car's total output checks in at 1,160 horsepower and 663 pound-feet of torque. The electric motor adds power and torque, but they also help offset the 12's CO2 emissions.

Reichman hinted particulate filters will help Aston Martin comply with looming emissions regulations, too.

"It's the science of burning fuel and extracting the particulates from the fuel that we're not allowed to breathe in," he explained.

Ferrari and Lamborghini have both pledged to keep the V12 alive for as long as possible, though both concede they'll need to insert it in a gasoline-electric hybrid powertrain. BMW will keep its V12 (which powers the 7 Series) at least through 2023. Mercedes-AMG, on the other hand, is phasing out the V12 as it develops a powerful plug-in hybrid drivetrain to power its range-topping models.

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