Aston Martin’s electric charge has suffered a setback after cash-strapped investment partner LeEco pulled out of the project. While in most cases this would spell doom for the project, here the electric Aston Martin might just become and even more exclusive car with the British marque planning a limited run of cars.
Aston Martin will build only 155 of its RapidE, about a third of the initial plan, and lean more heavily on Formula One engineering specialist Williams after the withdrawal of Chinese TV and smartphone vendor LeEco. The setback and Aston's response underscore the challenges and risks niche carmakers face as they scramble to address future demand for electrification from consumers and regulators. Without LeEco's backing, the sports carmaker, based in Gaydon, Warwickshire, is pushing ahead as sole investor in the electric car, after paring down production and pushing back the launch date to 2019.
Batteries will come from a new production facility built by a consortium led by Williams Advanced Engineering, the F1 team's technical division, with matched British government funding. Williams, which supplies power packs to the Formula E electric car racing series, also built the RapidE prototype unveiled in 2015.
Aston will start taking orders next month with the RapidE expected to cost more than the Vantage V12. Beyond the RapidE, Aston's first full-production battery car will be an electric version of the DBX crossover it is launching in 2019 - hoping for a repeat of the success that greeted its DB11 coupe, with a little help from the latest Bond film.