Faraday Future, the California-based electric vehicle company that’s backed by Chinese investors, is in financial turmoil. Facing insolvency this year, Hong Kong-based Evergrande Healthcare came to its rescue with a billion dollar injection.
But now, that relationship has strained and Faraday’s Future once again looks murky. CGTN’s Mark Niu takes a look at the rise and fall of an electric car company badly in need of a charge.
In January 2016 at the world’s largest consumer electronics show, CES, tech startup Faraday Future came out of stealth mode to unveil a concept EV that claims to produce 1000 horsepower.
With 750 employees hired globally and plans to open a manufacturing facility in Nevada, it was full speed ahead.
One year later at CES again, the company held the show’s most dramatic event by showing how some of the world’s fastest cars, like a Ferrari, can’t compare to the acceleration of its new prototype the FF 91.
“To build a really well-performing car, a fast car, takes a lot of work,” said Michael Coates, Editor of Clean Fleet Report. “I would rather have engineers that know how to build a really cost-effective car that can drive costs out. I think that the odds are definitely stacked against Faraday Future ever getting any volume production.”
But at their 2017 event, when Faraday Future’s main financial backer — LeEco founder Jia Yueting appeared on stage to push the auto park button— nothing happened.
More car trouble lingered with construction firms accusing Faraday of failing to pay them as its Nevada factory stalled.
Just days after the 2017 CES event, CGTN’s Mark Niu asked Faraday Future Co-founder Nick Sampson whether he was confident everything was on track.
“We feel fully confident,” said Sampson. “It’s not how well you do in the good times, it’s how you push through the challenges and the barriers that come at the harder times.”
Sampson recently quit, meaning two of its three co-founders are now gone. That leaves only LeEco founder Jia to preside over the company.
Jia’s LeEco has already crashed and burned after having glitzy U.S. events promising phones, VR, electric cars and a massive Silicon Valley campus called EcoWorld.
I visited the site of LeEco’s Silicon Valley office. The doors were locked, the lights out and no one was inside. It’s now available for lease.
But cash-strapped Faraday Future was thrown a lifeline when Chinese Conglomerate Evergrande Health, stepped in to pledge two billion dollars in funding.
It wasn’t long before Evergrande accused Faraday future of undermining its shareholder rights and withheld funding, prompting Faraday Future to issue a statement saying, “Evergrande failed to make any of the promised additional payments beyond the original 800 million dollar investment.”
“People were given two choices: Either continue to work and not get paid or just go home. There’s no money coming through,” said Coates. “From the folks I know at Faraday Future, they really expect there is relief that’s going to be coming from the courts to get them ongoing funding.”
Coates said the employees that remain still hold out hope that the car they’ve built will someday hit the market, perhaps beating the odds by proving Faraday has a future.
Sarah Shelton discusses what’s next for electric car company Faraday Future
CGTN’s Rachelle Akuffo spoke to Sarah Shelton, automotive journalist with US News and World Report about the financial turmoil facing elecric car firm Faraday Future.