British luxury car manufacturer Aston Martin has announced a new partnership with China’s LeEco, the backer of the electric vehicle start-up Faraday Future. The companies will be working together in the development of a production version of the RapidE concept car, whose design prototype Aston Martin had unveiled back in October 2015.
The two automakers also said that there was a high probability -- and "potential" -- that their joint venture would also be teaming up with Faraday Future to design other car models. The signing of the partnership deal was revealed at a press conference held in Frankfurt, Germany.
Although Aston Martin has been in the auto industry for more than a hundred years and has gained a lot of experience building vehicles, the British manufacturer of sports saloon cars is small compared to other firms working on electric automobiles, like Ford, Nissan, or even Tesla.
Following the December 2015 announcement of plans to construct a $1-billion manufacturing plant near Las Vegas, Faraday Future unveiled a stationary concept electric vehicle of its own in January 2016. However, the U.S.-based company has not yet revealed the details of the car models it intends to build for public consumption.
Aston Business School’s Professor David Bailey, a key industry watcher, has some doubts about this deal. He says that although joining with LeEco builds on the foundation of the earlier cooperation between Aston Martin and the Chinese firm and could help speed up their joint development of electric cars, he is more skeptical of the Faraday Future part of the deal. He says he isn’t really sure that the electric car start-up can actually deliver.
Professor Bailey points to uncertainty surrounding the company's proposed new factory in Nevada, with the state’s administration appearing to demand a total of $70m in security from Faraday in return for their investment.
Again, although Faraday Future showcased a 'concept' electric car at the most recently held CES tech show, the firm is yet to unveil a functioning prototype.
China’s Grand Plan for Electric Cars
The Chinese government has already declared that by 2020 it wants to see at least five million electric vehicles on its roads. Currently, China is working toward that by offering incentives to encourage drivers to buy electric. Recently, Chinese authorities announced an exemption of electric vehicles from the law that restricts the driving of gasoline vehicles on Beijing roads to a maximum of six days every week.
Such are the incentives that make LeEco want to invest even more in the electric car manufacturing industry. Currently, the company is best known for its Le smartphones and the on-demand LeTV cable TV service.
The business partnership between LeEco and Aston Martin intends to ensure that the RapidE vehicle can be on the market lby 2018, using Internet capabilities developed by the Chinese company. The two firms also said that they have plans to follow up with other next-generation, connected electric automobiles before the close of the decade.
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