Performance brands haven't always been excited about the transition to electric cars. Many seemed to fear a loss of power, terrified by the thought of producing stylish-but-pokey golf carts for the well-heeled.
Then came Tesla, which showed everyone that electric cars could be very, very powerful, indeed. And après ça, le déluge.
The latest automaker to throw its hat in the electric car ring is Aston Martin, which has announced plans to co-develop its highly hyped RapidE (based on the existing Rapide S) with Chinese media firm LeEco. And that could make the electric auto market awfully interesting.
Not familiar with LeEco? Perhaps that's because it doesn't have much of a presence outside China, and also because the company recently changed its name from Letv. If that name rings a dim, distant bell, it's for good reason: Letv was started by entrepreneur Jia Yueting -- the same Jia Yueting who founded electric car start-up Faraday Future, which unveiled a 1,000-hp electric concept at CES back in January.
Aston Martin shared news about its partnership with LeEco in a press release yesterday:
"Leading global technology company LeEco and luxury sports car brand Aston Martin today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) towards the creation of a partnership that will develop a production version of the Aston Martin RapidE electric vehicle concept. 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."
The Aston Martin/LeEco partnership in itself isn't all that surprising. Not far from the spot where Faraday Future unveiled its FFZERO1 concept at CES, Aston Martin showed off its next-generation infotainment system, powered by LeEco.
In yesterday's press release, it became clear that there was more to the partnership than infotainment, though. The companies plan to co-develop a production version of the Aston Martin RapidE electric car, with sales to begin by 2018. The model will be manufactured at the Aston Martin facility in Gaydon, England. Depending on how well the pairing plays out, other electric models could follow before the end of the decade.
The question on everyone's mind, of course, is where Faraday Future fits into this -- if it fits in at all. Would the two share a production facility? Powertrain technology? Could they go so far as co-branding a vehicle? And what effect would any of that have on Tesla sales? We don't know just yet, but we'll be paying close attention.
For more on this story, check out our colleagues at Green Car Reports.