Production For Aston Martin RapidE Will Continue Despite LeEco's Financial Woes
Automakers, including ones that specialize in high-end, performance-oriented luxury vehicles, are planning to expand their lineup with all-electric vehicles. Aston Martin was one of the first automakers to reveal an all-electric sports car prototype with the RapidE two years ago. The prototype was a beautifully designed car that promised to be a useable high-performance car that showed a lot of promise.
Aston Martin, who wasn't familiar with electric vehicles decided to team up with Chinese tech giant LeEco. Unfortunately, LeEco has run into major problems, as recent reports claim the company fired 325 employees, bringing its total number down to 175. And even worse, the company has resorted to sell its office furniture on Craigslist.
LeEco's financial situation is pretty bad and now, the Chinese tech company has pulled out of the RapidE project with Aston Martin, reports Reuters. Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer confirmed the news to the outlet towards the end of June.
Aston Martin Charges Ahead
Now with Aston Martin's major investment partner out of the picture, plans for the RapidE have drastically changed. The British automaker will still continue on with the goal of getting the RapidE onto the road, but will limit production to make the machine much more exclusive than previously believed. The report claims that only 155 units of the RapidE will be made, which is approximately one third of what initial plans called for.
The RapidE will now be aimed as a competitor for high-end Tesla Model S models that cost approximately $130,000. The large price tag is a consequence of Aston Martin having to rely more heavily on Williams, a Formula One team, now that LeEco is out.
"We've decided to make this car rare, which will obviously tend to push the price higher," said Palmer. "Aston Martin now plans to proceed independently, funding further development of RapidE by ourselves."
Production has been pushed back to 2019, but other details, like the car's powertrain, what countries it will be sold in, and more, haven't been announced yet.
LeEco Has Left Other High And Dry Too
Aston Martin isn't the only automaker having to rethink its plans now that LeEco has drastically cut its investments. Faraday Future is reported to be seeking approximately $1 billion in funding. The issue, as Reuters points out, reveals just how challenging it is for niche automakers to fulfill demand for electric cars.
Consumers and regulators are forcing automakers to invest and engineer electric powertrains, which not only takes a lot of time, but is also extremely expensive. Automakers that specialize in niche products, like high-performance luxury vehicles, are struggling to find the funds to switch gears to environmentally-friendly cars without backing from larger companies.
Despite deciding to forge ahead with the RapidE, Aston Martin's first all-electric vehicle will be a special variant of the DBX crossover that will come out in 2019. "The RapidE project was always about learning in readiness for the DBX derivative," said Palmer. "We can do that through a limited series."
Hopefully, LeEco's withdrawal from Aston Martin's RapidE program is just a minor setback for the automaker and not a deal crusher.
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