Aston Martin has scaled back production plans for its first electric model, after cash-strapped investment partner LeEco pulled out of the project, CEO Andy Palmer told Reuters.
The result, though, may be an even more exclusive car, aimed at customers who consider Tesla's top of the range $130,000 Model S to be a little too run of the mill.
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, Palmer said.
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.
While the privately held Aston Martin brand benefits from the endorsement of fictitious spy James Bond, it lacks the backing of a large automotive parent that many rivals enjoy.
"We have decided to make this car rare, which will obviously tend to push the price higher," Palmer said. "Aston Martin now plans to proceed independently, funding further development of RapidE by ourselves."
Palmer agreed to be interviewed after sources told Reuters Aston Martin's partnership with LeEco had unraveled.
Unveiling the alliance in February last year, LeEco and Aston pledged to launch an all-electric version of the Rapide S sedan in 2018. But the Chinese conglomerate has since slashed its electric car investments, including its U.S. startup Faraday Future's planned $1.3 billion factory in Nevada.