The first all-electric Aston Martin will come to market in 2018, thanks to a curious partnership with a major Chinese media and tech company. LeEco, the Chinese outfit formerly known as Letv, will help develop the battery and powertrain systems for the upcoming Aston Martin RapidE.
Aston Martin hopes to reach a new contingent of high-end luxury customers as a result of the collaboration, particularly in China. A production version of the all-electric RapideE concept (pictured), based on the Aston Martin Rapide S luxury sedan, will also help Aston Martin meet stricter emissions standards. The upcoming Aston Martin DBX crossover also uses an all-electric powertrain.
CEO Andy Palmer had previously told AUTOMOBILE that the RapidE would be developed with the guidance of the U.K.’s Williams Advanced Engineering and built at Aston Martin’s Gaydon facility in England.
Earlier reports suggested the Aston Martin RapidE could pack as much as 1,000 hp from a quartet of electric motors, one positioned at each wheel. It is said to combining torque vectoring, and regenerative braking, while providing a total range competitive with the Tesla Model S’ 275 miles. Palmer has said he hopes to build 400 units per year at around £200,000 a pop, with 100 of those units bound for China.
According to Aston Martin’s announcement, the joint venture with LeEco could also yield a wider range of advanced, connected electric vehicles.
Faraday Future, the American start-up which made waves with an outlandish concept at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, is another possible beneficiary of the partnership. LeEco is a primary investor in Faraday Future, which plans to build its cars on a modular platform designed specifically for electric vehicles.
Aston Martin’s collaboration with LeEco is just one example of automakers and tech companies growing ever chummier. Tech companies are looking to expand their footprint from traditional consumer electronics, and car companies are competing to provide the latest in infotainment and connectivity services to their customers. Ding Lei, who heads up LeEco’s auto initiatives, is a veteran of the automotive industry with past experience at Volkswagen and General Motors Shanghai.
Aston Martin first partnered with LeEco (then called Letv) in April 2015. Letv agreed to provide in-car entertainment systems for new Aston Martin cars. In December 2015, the two companies announced a research partnership working to develop connected-car technologies and manufacturing consulting for electric vehicles.
Most recently at CES in January, Aston Martin introduced a special Rapide S concept Letv in-car connectivity, including its Internet of the Vehicle (IOV) technology. It features a new center touch screen, digital instrument cluster, speech recognition system, remote monitoring, and Wi-FI connection. Of the partnership, Palmer said in a statement that “The integration of Letv advanced connected technologies into this bespoke environment is a natural progression as we look to the future demands of our consumers.”