Partnership creates tie between Faraday Future, Aston Martin

Dan Steinberg / Invision for Letv/AP Images

In-car display of the LeTV ecosystem and connected car technologies in an Aston Martin RapidE S at the Consumer Electronics Show on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016, in Las Vegas. LeTV’s SEE Plan seeks to build an open automotive ecosystem for energy-efficient, intelligent and connected vehicles.

Electric vehicle company Faraday Future could benefit from a joint venture between Aston Martin and Faraday's Chinese partner LeEco, a news release announced Thursday. The partnership’s goal is to bring to the market a production version of the Aston Martin RapidE, currently a concept car for the British manufacturer, by 2018.

Chinese media conglomerate LeEco, formerly known as LeTV, is closely tied to Faraday, which is preparing to break ground on its $1 billion automobile manufacturing plant in North Las Vegas. One of Faraday’s primary investors, Jia Yueting, is the CEO of LeEco, known as the “Chinese Netflix.”

Although the joint venture is between LeEco and Aston Martin, the news release left open the possibility that Faraday could be involved in the partnership in the future.

“It is anticipated that the partnership will see the two companies working together in developing and manufacturing RapidE, with potential for adding a range of next-generation connected electric vehicles on behalf of Aston Martin, LeEco and Faraday Future,” said a release following a news conference Thursday in Germany.

This is not the first instance of collaboration between LeEco and Aston Martin. In April 2015, LeEco announced a partnership to provide in-car entertainment for the luxury brand. They have also worked together on connected vehicles and unveiled an example of an integrated Aston Martin car at CES in Las Vegas earlier this year.

Those efforts fell under LeEco’s auto devision, charged with developing the “Super Electric Ecosystem,” technical knowledge that LeEco said it would lend to Faraday.

Ding Lei, co-founder and global vice chairman of the Super Electric Ecosystem Plan, said the agreement with Aston Martin “ushers a new phase of the collaborations.”

“LeEco’s (Super Electric Ecosystem) Plan is dedicated to build electric, smart, connected and socialized cars,” he said in the news release. “We have been targeting the highest standard in the auto industry in terms of design, (research and development) and manufacturing of our electric cars. 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.”

Ding attended the unveil of Faraday’s concept car FFZERO1 at CES in January.

RapidE, the car LeEco and Aston Martin are working on, is an all-electric sports sedan. The release said that since the RapidE concept car was unveiled, the two companies have been working on identifying technology for the car’s components.

Faraday is expected to receive an estimated $215.9 million in tax incentives from the state, as it constructs its first factory in North Las Vegas. Faraday plans to break ground on the manufacturing plant, located at the 18,000-acre Apex Industrial Park, in the first quarter of this year and move equipment there by the end of 2016.

Many questions remain about the company and industry experts appear reluctant to predict the company’s success before seeing a production vehicle. During a recent speech at an event for local executives, Dag Reckhorn, vice president of global manufacturing, said the design for a mass-market production car was complete.

“We expect to showcase our first production car sooner than the world expects,” he said.