Aston Martin teams up with Chinese firm to create new EVs
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Will James Bond’s next car be ELECTRIC?
Aston Martin could soon be teaming up with mysterious Chinese automotive firm Faraday Future to develop an electric supercar.
The British brand, which is best known for being James Bond's ride of choice, recently announced a partnership with Faraday Future's backer, LeEco.
The deal will see the firms develop the RapidE S electric sports saloon in 2018 - a prototype version of which was unveiled in October.
The firms said the partnership could also lead to the development of other electric cars with Faraday Future, who has also said it will unveil a road-ready car 'very soon'.
Last month, Faraday Future unveiled its FFZero1 electric concept car, a vehicle that looks like a Corvette crossed with the Batmobile.
But some industry experts quickly dismissed the car as 'unfeasible' and unlikely to ever be transformed into a production model.
That could be about to change with this deal, which is an example of the deepening ties between the technology and automotive industries.
Andy Palmer, left, CEO of Aston Martin, and Lei Ding, co-founder and global vice chairman of LeEco's SEE Plan, pose in front of Aston Martin's RapidE concept vehicle following the announcement of a joint venture.
Speaking to DailyMail.com last month, Faraday Future's chief designer Richard Kim said the firm is currently testing a production ready car on the roads and said it will be revealed 'very soon'.
He claims the road vehicle will feature many of the concepts currently showcased on the FFZero1.
The 1,000-horsepower FFZero1 includes the ability to exceeed 200mph (321 kph) and accelerate from zero to 60mph in less than three seconds.
It also includes a helmet to provide oxygen and water to the driver.
Faraday Future has not responded to DailyMail.com to comment on the deal.
Companies like Alphabet and LeEco are developing automotive expertise because they want to broaden their reach beyond computers and cellphones into cars.
Meanwhile automakers want internet connectivity to give drivers live traffic updates and entertainment.
The new RapidE concept has been developed in collaboration with Williams Advanced Engineering at its facility in Grove, Oxfordshire. Last year, Aston Martin’s CEO Andy Palmer told Automotive News that an 800 horsepower Rapide EV with a range of 200 miles (322km) is in the pipeline.
'It brings Aston Martin's electric car project forward,' Aston Martin Chief Executive Andy Palmer said at a news conference in Frankfurt, adding the RapidE would be built in Gaydon, Warwickshire.
Last year, Aston Martin’s CEO Andy Palmer told Automotive News that an 800 horsepower Rapide EV with a range of 200 miles (322km) is in the pipeline.
It already has a test vehicle on the road, but Palmer did not reveal any more details about the forthcoming motor in the interview at Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in California.
However, what is definite, is the all-wheel-drive car will be considerably more expensive than Tesla’s Model S, at between $200,000 and $250,000 (£127,677 and £159,597)
LeEco is a consumer electronics company which offers branded content via the internet, television set top boxes and smartphones.
It hopes to use its captive audience and celebrity endorsements to promote cars in future.
'In China we have around 300 million people who visit our website,' said Lei Ding, co-founder of LeEco's auto division.
'We could advertise the Aston Martin for free. And we can use celebrities to promote our vehicle. This is the way we do business.'
The electric car development platform by Aston and LeEco could also be used by Faraday Future, a start-up electric car firm backed by Chinese billionaire Jia Yueting, the companies said.
'Aston can offer expertise in ride, handling refinement and those sorts of things,' Palmer said.
China's government is promoting electric vehicles to cut the smog that frequently envelops its cities, which officials say helped sales quadruple last year and has turned China into the world's biggest market.
An electric car joint venture of Taiwan's Hon Hai, China's Tencent and China Harmony Auto Holding said this month it was hiring former BMW executive Carsten Breitfeld to lead it.
Harmony Futeng, launched last March, is one of several Chinese tech companies trying to develop 'smart' and electric vehicles.
These include Alibaba, Baidu and Leshi Internet Information and Technology Corp Beijing, recently rebranded as LeEco.