Chinese company LeEco wants to build 400,000 electric cars at a new plant near Hangzhou and will invest more than $1.8 billion in a state of the art facility for its LeSEE taxi and its burgeoning deal with Aston Martin.
Electric vehicles have sparked a goldrush in recent times after the Chinese government removed a number of restrictions on the industry in a bid to encourage the population to make the switch. LeEco is right at the head of the field and, after years working behind the scenes, it is finally going public with big ambitions.
The $3 billion eco park
LeEco, which is part of Le Holdings Co Ltd, intends to build a plant in Deqing country, which will form part of the Eco Experience Park. It’s a $3 billion development that will include offices, an entertainment park and a center of technical excellence.
That will help the Hanghzou region stake a claim to a slice of the lucrative market for zero emissions cars and environmentally aware manufacturing.
It has already formed an alliance with Faraday Future in the US and intends to build cars near Las Vegas. LeEco founder Jiu Yueting has also backed Faraday and is clearly convinced that this partnership helps both companies benefit from merging their considerable R&D, production and purchasing power.
Hypercars to taxis
While Faraday is working on an ambitious plan for an electric hypercar, LeEco has focused its efforts on an entirely different sector with the LeSEE concept. It’s far from a finished product, but the prototype of the autonomous, luxury taxi that can be summoned with a smartphone app has met an enthusiastic response.
It could easily be a luxury car, too, and the taxi moniker may simply be a way to differentiate it from the Tesla Model S.
It’s good, but is it safe?
The concept features a number of touches that the regulators might struggle with, including a steering wheel that folds away when it isn’t required. But this prototype is merely a promotional tool at the moment and the sedan that finally rolls off the production line will be a world away from the first iteration.
Big news with Aston Martin
LeEco has formed another partnership with Aston Martin and will help the iconic British manufacturer develop a production version of the RapidE concept car. They expect the car to go on sale in 2018 and this will be the first of a number of new EV launches for Aston Martin that LeEco will presumably have a hand in.
The two have already unveiled an Aston Martin Rapide S equipped with the latest Letv Internet of the Vehicle (IOV) system. They will now turn their attention to zero emissions versions of the Aston Martin DB11 and the replacement for the Vantage.
It’s a massive partnership in terms of credibility for LeEco and the news that it has invested so heavily in a new factory will give the company another shot in the arm. A vast number of companies might have joined the EV goldrush of late, but LeEco is in the right place at the right time and could easily come out of this on top.