Aston Martin, Chinese Firm LeEco to Create Luxury Electric Car

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Aston Martin’s agreement to work with a Chinese company to create a luxury electric car shows again how China is emerging as a major force when it come to electric vehicles.

Aston, the famed British automaker best known as the builder of James Bond’s car of choice, announced this week that it has signed a deal on with a Beijing-based tech firm, LeEco, to make the RapidE electric car by 2018.

LeEco was founded and is headed by Yueting Jia, the billionaire who is also behind Faraday Future, an electric-vehicle start-up taking shape in a Los Angeles suburb. The Aston-LeEco joint statement says the joint effort could lead to the development of a Faraday Future vehicle as well.

The company is “dedicated to build electric, smart, connected and socialized cars,” said Ding Lei, global vice chairman of the division creating electric car systems, in a statement. “We have been targeting the highest standard in the auto industry in terms of design, R&D and manufacturing of our electric cars.”

LeEco, formerly known as Letv, describes itself as having started as a video-streaming company. It provides an “integrated ecosystem that spans smartphones, TVs, transportation, sports, film, entertainment and more,” it says on its Web page. LeEco will make the car’s electric powertrain, says Aston spokesman Matthew Clarke. A concept electric car with LeEco components was shown at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last month.

The partnership between Aston and LeEco shows how Chinese companies are starting to not only supply low-tech parts for cars, but high-tech, cutting-edge vehicles as well.

“This is a great example of how Chinese companies are now able to offer technology for automobiles that is applicable not just in China, but globally,” says Alysha Webb, managing partner of Cross Pacific Partner, a China-related consulting firm.

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SOURCE: USA Today, Chris Woodyard