Aston Martin-LeEco Deal is Dead, RapidE EV to be Limited Edition
Just 155 copies will be built
Aston Martin's EV partnership with financially troubled Chinese tech conglomerate LeEco is dead on arrival, but the British marque is going ahead with its first all-electric model. The automaker announced its all-electric RapidE sedan will now be a limited edition car, with a lower production run than originally planned.
In a release, Aston announced its revised plans for the RapidE but made no mention of its development partner LeEco. Sources confirmed to Reuters that LeEco pulled out of its deal with Aston Martin, which would have seen the two companies working together on electric vehicle development and manufacturing. LeEco, which formerly had strong ties with EV startup Faraday Future, said earlier this year that it was low on cash due to stretching itself too thin. The company's financial woes cast doubt on the future of its proposed electric car business as well as the viability of Faraday Future and its FF 91 concept.
Now that LeEco has backed out, Aston Martin plans to build just 155 copies of its RapidE electric sedan, or roughly a third of the original number it planned to produce under the deal, according to Reuters. Formula 1 engineering firm Williams will now take the lead on development and will be tasked with drivetrain integration. Aston says details on that drivetrain will be released at a later date. The production car will be based on the aggressively styled Rapide AMR concept, and sketches show a car with a wide body, large hood vents, and unique grille. The RapidE was originally planned to hit the market in 2018, but with this setback the release date has been pushed to 2019. But by limiting production, Aston is making its EV more exclusive.
"We've decided to make this car rare, which will obviously tend to push the price higher," Palmer told Reuters. "Aston Martin now plans to proceed independently, funding further development of RapidE by ourselves."
The price point for the Aston Martin RapidE will be in the ballpark of 200,000 pounds ($254,000 at today's exchange rates). That's a good deal more than the $206,000 starting price of the V-12-powered Rapide S, though much less than the $1 million price tag of the ultra-exclusive Lagaonda Taraf sedan. Aston will begin accepting orders, along with a 10 percent down payment, next month. Batteries will be supplied by a consortium led by Williams, which races in the Formula E electric open-wheel series. The RapidE will be built at Aston Martin's Gaydon, U.K., headquarters, which will undergo an expansion to accommodate annual capacity of 7,000 cars by 2020.