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LeTV helps give Aston Martin a 'tech' makeover

By Gao Yuan (China Daily) Updated: 2016-01-08 08:08

Aston Martin, the trendy and cool British luxury sports car, is adding more bang to the buck by teaming up with Beijing-based tech firm LeTV Holdings Co Ltd on tech-smart vehicles.

The company's cars, often associated with the legendary secret agent James Bond, are set to sport new looks with a host of tech gizmos blended in to give the ultimate in driving experience.

LeTV and Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd showcased their first model the Rapide S, powered by LeTV's automobile operating system, on Thursday at the ongoing consumer electronics expo in Las Vegas.

The vehicle has a 13.3-inch HD touch screen from LeTV as the car's center console instead of the traditional 12.2-inch display dashboard. The 2015 version sedan also incorporates LeTV's under development speech recognition technology, which allows the car to hear driver's orders such as lowering windows. The cloud-based system also enables other services such as remote monitoring.

The entire project took several months to complete, according to LeTV. By partnering with LeTV, Aston Martin has shown that it wants to add up-to-the-minute tech into its already well-known vehicles.

Ding Lei, co-founder and global vice-chairman of LeTV's automobile subsidiary LeTV Super Car, said the Chinese company has given "an Internet brain" to Aston Martin, which has a legacy of more than 100 years.

Aston Martin and LeTV signed a partnership deal in December 2015 on research collaboration. The research projects include the development of the next-generation electric vehicles and manufacturing.

Andrew Palmer, CEO of Aston Martin, said: "The integration of LeTV's advanced connected technologies into this bespoke environment is a natural progression as we look to the future demands of our customers."

The two companies have no intention of selling the upgraded version of Rapide S, saying technologies used on the 4 million yuan ($610,000) speed monster will be introduced in future rollouts.

LeTV announced its automobile intentions in November 2015. The company, which had experience in making smartphones and televisions, said it was seeking traditional automakers for partnership. LeTV also invested in a two-year-old electric car developer in the United States to challenge industry pioneers like Tesla Motors Inc in the coming years.

Zhang Xu, a Beijing-based analyst with consultancy Analysys International, said LeTV has huge ambitions in the auto industry.

"The cars are considered the next key terminal for mobile Internet after the smartphones," she said. "LeTV defiantly wants a lion's share in this sector so it launched strategies early to gan an advantage."

Baidu Inc, the largest Chinese-language online search provider, is also developing technologies used in cars. It tested a self-driving system in late 2015 and showed off the technology to Chinese President Xi Jinping at an industry expo in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province.

Tencent Holdings Ltd and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd also announced plans to enter the smart car market.

"The competition is set to intensify this year," said Zhang.

gaoyuan@chinadaily.com.cn

 LeTV helps give Aston Martin a 'tech' makeover

Global Vice-Chairman of LeTV Super Car Ding Lei, and Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer introduce the in-car entertainment and connected car tech in an Aston Martin Rapide S at the CES.AP

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