Aston Martin, the British ultraluxury performance-car maker, has turned to an unlikely firm for help with its upcoming RapidE electric car: one of China’s top video-streaming companies.
To be fair, Aston’s new partner in the project, LeEco, is a lot more than that, including smart TVs and smartphones, as well as other consumer electronics. But its auto division is very new, and as a name LeEco is a relative unknown in the U.S. and Europe, where Aston’s sales hinge on its British heritage.
LeEco established itself as China’s version of Netflix (or more appropriately, Netflix could be seen as a riff on its service, LeTV).
The all-electric model, championed by Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer, a former top executive at Nissan during the introduction of the Nissan Leaf electric car, would be a strong rival to the Tesla Model S; and such a model would compete with the production version of the Porsche Mission E concept that’s said to be under development.
LeEco’s English-language Facebook page, which seems more concise and information-filled than its actual English web page, says that the company "is an Internet/Technology/Entertainment company delivering industry-disruptive innovations for the connected age.”
According to further reports, citing company officials, the Chinese electronics company might provide expertise for the battery, drivetrain, vehicle systems, and other interface items, while Aston would bring its ride and handling—and perhaps some of the sound and personality—into the project.
The automaker has been extremely thin on details for the RapidE so far, although it’s expected that the production model will be build in Gaydon, England, and be faster-accelerating than its gasoline-powered, 560-horsepower Rapide S sedan. The electric model could be as little as two years away, and could correspond to a major update for the Rapide.