Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd., maker of sports cars such as the DB9, plans to team up with LeEco of China to help bring its electric RapidE vehicle to market by 2018.
LeEco intends to provide the powertrain and battery pack for the vehicle to be built at Aston Martin’s factory in Gaydon, England, the companies said in Frankfurt on Wednesday. The planned joint venture secures financing to take the battery- powered version of the current Rapide sports car from concept to production.
Sports-car makers are increasingly being lured into the electric-car market, drawn by Tesla Motors Inc.’s emergence and tightening environmental regulations. BMW AG sells the plug-in hybrid i8, and Porsche introduced the sleek Mission E concept car last year.
While electric motors offer the promise of rapid acceleration, they lack the bone-tingling sound of traditional combustion-powered sports cars.
“The sound of an Aston Martin is very graceful, that’s kind of what gives its soul,” said Will Farquhar, Aston Martin’s strategy chief. “So we are looking at how we can create that soul in an electric vehicle.”
The all-electric sports sedan is part of the brand’s push to more than double annual sales to above a former peak of about 7,500 vehicles, from 3,500 last year, Farquhar said. The British marque is seeking to generate its first net profit since 2010 in two years. It has said it plans to roll out a new model or variant every eight to nine months.