Both companies will work on bringing the RapidE electric concept to the market

Aston Martin has officially jumped headfirst into the electric vehicle market. The British automaker took that big step after announcing its partnership with LeEco, a Chinese tech company known for is affiliation with electric carmaker Faraday Future.

The plan now calls for both sides to continue developing the production version of the RapidE Concept with an eye towards seeing it hit the market by 2018. It’s a job that’s far easier said than done, but the two are banking on a working relationship that has existed before. The two have worked together numerous times in the past, including LeEco providing its LEtv Internet of the Vehicle (IOV) system for the Aston Martin Rapide S. They’ve also been working together in developing low-emission vehicle technologies, something that will no doubt prove useful with this new partnership in place to bring the RapidE to market.

The announcement also included hints of a “potential” three-way partnership between the two companies and Faraday Future, the start-up brand that plans to build its own line of electric vehicles.

It’s no secret that automakers from all corners of the world have already invested heavily in the development of electric cars. Aston Martin, though not as big as the likes of Ford, Volkswagen, or General Motors, is looking to get a piece of that pie, especially in the Chinese market where its partnership with LeEco could provide the gateway towards establishing the RapidE as a viable option for Chinese customers.

The timetable set by the two companies to have the production RapidE out in the market by 2018 fits into the Chinese government’s own plan to have five million electric cars by 2020. Incentives have already been put in place by the government to encourage Chinese buyers to opt for EVs and if the RapidE’s production timetable is met, it could prove to be an attractive option for a market that has proven to embrace premium brands like Aston Martin.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

Why it matters

The decision to enter the electric car market is huge for Aston Martin. A lot of automakers are doing it now and it wouldn’t make sense for Aston to get left behind, especially now that a lot of countries are implementing stricter emissions regulations. Soon enough, it’s going to be nearly impossible for an automaker to survive without at least one electric car in its lineup.

It also makes sense from a business perspective for the company to launch into a partnership considering its status as a small automaker relative to some of the giants of the industry. The fact that Aston Martin is partnering with a tech firm that can provide inroads into the Chinese market is a huge bonus.

LeEco is also benefitting from this, which is why this partnership is one of those times wherein both companies get something out of it. For those who don’t know, LeEco founder Yueting Jia is a big advocate of electric cars. He’s even made investments in a number of electric car ventures, including Faraday Future and Atieva, a Silicon Valley-based company that’s designing its own electric car. Yueting has even been compared to Elon Musk in the past.

Hopefully, this partnership bears fruit for all parties concerned. I’m particularly excited to see how the development of the RapidE goes from here now that all of their cards are on the table. There’s a mutual interest for both firms to transition the RapidE from a concept to an actual production EV. That’s pretty exciting to hear.

2016 Aston Martin RapidE Concept

2016 Aston Martin RapidE Concept
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Read our full review on the 2016 Aston Martin RapidE Concept here.

Press Release

Leading global technology company LeEco and luxury sports car brand Aston Martin today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) towards the creation of a partnership that will develop a production version of the Aston Martin RapidE electric vehicle concept. It is anticipated that the partnership will see the two companies working together in developing and manufacturing RapidE, with potential for adding a range of next-generation connected electric vehicles on behalf of Aston Martin, LeEco and Faraday Future.

This new signing extends the existing collaboration between the two companies. In January 2016, LeEco and Aston Martin revealed the first results of their partnership – an Aston Martin Rapide S incorporating the latest Letv Internet of the Vehicle (IOV) system. The second area of the partnership – the development of low-emission vehicle technologies – has been accelerated as they have developed their respective plans for launching a range of new electric vehicles during the second half of the decade.

The first model developed by this partnership will be the Aston Martin RapidE. The Aston Martin RapidE concept was created to explore how the company can take an existing production vehicle and create an all-electric sports sedan. Since the creation of this concept vehicle, Aston Martin and Letv have been advancing the work on production feasibility including the identification of technology solutions for battery systems and powertrain. Both companies are now focused on bringing the RapidE to market in 2018 utilising the best technologies from the companies’ portfolios.

Commenting on the signing of the MOU, Mr. Ding Lei, co-founder and global vice chairman of SEE Plan, said, “Signing of this MOU ushers a new phase of the collaborations between Aston Martin and LeEco. LeEco’s SEE Plan is dedicated to build electric, smart, connected and socialized cars. We have been targeting the highest standard in the auto industry in terms of design, R&D and manufacturing of our electric cars. We hope that, by strengthening collaborations with Aston Martin, our future models will provide premium qualities and delicate arts and crafts as good as those of Aston Martin.”

Aston Martin CEO, Dr Andy Palmer, said: “Aston Martin are dedicated to developing a range of cars with low emission technologies. We have been encouraged by the project speed and technical depth shown by Letv in the development of the RapidE concept towards full production. Bringing the RapidE to market by 2018 is an important milestone for both companies. ”

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