The Chinese consumer electronics company backing Silicon Valley upstart Faraday Future – LeEco – has entered into an agreement with Aston Martin to co-develop its first all electric car, the RapidE.
Developed as a concept variant on the existing Rapide chassis, the 800-horsepower, all-wheel-drive production version to be built in the UK with supplied components is projected for 2018.
The tie-up between the elite British maker of “Bond” cars and the massive Chinese media and “eco” concern formerly known as Letv, could also see a technology transfer to Faraday Future, say the companies.
“Aston can offer expertise in ride, handling refinement and those sorts of things,” said CEO Andy Palmer.
Little more was reported on Faraday’s future, but the Aston-LeEco agreement otherwise represents deepening collaboration by the tech industry and automotive industry, as well as China and western concerns.
According to Reuters, companies like LeEco want to broaden their market reach beyond cell phones and computers, and carmakers want to expand Internet connectivity for things like live traffic updates, infotainment, and more.
“In China we have around 300 million people who visit our website,” said Lei Ding, co-founder of LeEco’s auto division. “We could advertise the Aston Martin for free. And we can use celebrities to promote our vehicle. This is the way we do business.”
As for Aston Martin’s first EV, like so many European high-end brands facing regulations for their gas guzzlers, in addition to following Tesla competitively, the British company is seeking a way out that will satisfy existing customer requirements.
For its part, LeEco will develop the battery pack and powertrain which will be shipped for vehicle production in Gaydon, England, the companies said today in Frankfurt.
The EV, said Aston Martin’s strategy chief, Will Farquhar, is to help push the brand’s sales above a former ceiling of 7,500 ever sold, reported Bloomberg. Aston hopes to make its first profit since 2010 within the next two years, with plans for a new model or variant every eight-nine months.
Whether more EVs are to be part of the mix was not stated, but Aston Martin headed by former Nissan boss, Andy Palmer, has said it is taking a new shining to electrification as a core element of its future strategy.
Among possibilities, the company has said all-wheel drive with up to 1,000 horsepower could be considered, and RapidE pricing is said to be above Tesla because Aston has superior brand recognition.
“What Tesla clearly shows you is we haven’t hit the ceiling in terms of price,” said Palmer last August, as reported Automotive News. “But I think it’s hard, though not impossible, for them as a relatively new brand to keep pushing up and to go into that super premier area.”