Aston Martin has shaken hands with Faraday Future and the electric vehicle startup's backer, LeEco, on a deal to turn the RapidE concept vehicle into a production model.
Unveiled last fall, the RapidE's name tells it all. The capitalized "E" indicated that the prototype was an all-electric version of Aston Martin's Rapide S sports saloon.
At the time, Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer said the company sees electric vehicles as an "intrinsic part" of its portfolio of products in the future. And that goal was a few steps closer with the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between Aston Martin and China's LeEco.
"Aston Martin are dedicated to developing a range of cars with low emission technologies," Palmer says. "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."
The MoU's primary objective is to build out a production version of the RapidE. Palmer has previously indicated that the RapidE would likely come in two varieties, suggesting that one would be offered with a combined horsepower of around 550 horsepower and the other somewhere between 800 and 1,000 horsepower.
Palmer also indicated that both versions of the RapidE would have a Tesla-challenging range of over 200 miles.
After RapidE, Aston Martin is open to developing electric vehicle designs drawn up by LeEco and Faraday Future. And LeEco is dedicated to building smart, connected, electric and "socialized cars," states Ding Lei, co-founder and global vice chairman of SEE Plan.
"We have been targeting the highest standard in the auto industry in terms of design, R&D and manufacturing of our electric cars," Lei says. "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."
While LeEco's remarks may seem a bit corporate-speaky, the company is headquartered in China. And one of the last things the country needs are an uptick in smog-inducing gas guzzlers.