Aston Martin set up a venture with Chinese consumer electronics group LeEco to jointly develop the British luxury car brand’s first electric vehicle. This project is definitely an example of deepening relationships between the technology and automotive industries.
The main reason why companies like Alphabet and LeEco are developing automotive expertise is that they want to broaden their reach beyond computers and cellphones into cars, while automakers want Internet connectivity to give drivers live traffic updates and infotainment.
Plans of both the companies focus on making an electric car based on the British automaker’s Rapide S model. However, at present, the economic terms of the agreement are not known. We do know the fact that the companies are looking to make more cars in the future, at least as far as LeEco is concerned.
“It brings Aston Martin’s electric car project forward,” Aston Martin Chief Executive Andy Palmer said at a news conference in Frankfurt, adding it would come to market in 2018, and be built in Gaydon, England.
For those who are not aware of LeEco, it is basically a consumer electronics company which offers branded content via the Internet, television set-top boxes and smartphones. The company is looking to promote its cars via celebrity endorsements in the future.
“In China, we have around 300 million people who visit our website. We could advertise the Aston Martin for free. And we can use celebrities to promote our vehicle. This is the way we do business,” said Lei Ding, co-founder of LeEco’s auto division. He previously held senior positions at joint ventures of Volkswagen and General Motors in China.
The platform for the electric cars that have been developed by Aston and LeEco could also be used by Faraday Future. It is a start-up electric car firm backed by Chinese billionaire Jia Yueting.
“Aston can offer expertise in ride, handling refinement and those sorts of things,” Palmer said.
China’s government is also promoting such projects as heavy industrialization have lead to smog that frequently envelops its cities, which officials say helped sales quadruple last year and has turned China into the world’s biggest market.
Harmony Futeng, which was launched last March, is one such Chinese company that is developing “smart” and electric vehicles. Other companies are Alibaba, Baidu and Leshi Internet Information and Technology Corp Beijing, which was recently branded as LeEco.