A new electric vehicle company is preparing to directly challenge the darling of the automotive industry, Tesla, with a new $1.4 billion factory to be built in the US and a range of new electric cars in the works.
The company is Faraday Future, named for Michael Faraday, a pioneering scientist who in the 1800s made significant contributions in electromagnetism and electrochemistry.
In both its billion-dollar investment in a brand-new manufacturing facility, and its plan to market an exclusively electrified range, Faraday can easily be compared with Tesla, which is building its ‘Gigafactory’ in Nevada and focuses entirely on electric vehicles.
Little else about the fledgling carmaker’s plan has been revealed, although much has been rumoured, with reports in the business and technology press initially suggesting the company could be a cover for technology giant Apple.
Those rumours were driven largely by ongoing reports that Apple is prototyping its own electric vehicle, along with the sheer size of Faraday’s investment and its growing workforce of around 400 to 500 people at its California offices.
The flames were fanned when, rather than outright denying involvement, Apple declined to comment on the reports - a tactic often seen as an admission in itself.
However, deeper investigation appears to have revealed that Jia Yueting - the 42 year-old billionaire chairman of LeTV, the “Netflix of China” - may be the driving force behind the push to take on Tesla in the US and in its homeland.
Jia has made no secret of his plans to launch an electric vehicle range, having already talked of a new ‘Le Supercar’ developed by LeTV.
“This is our dream and passion,” Jia told business paper Bloomberg last year. “Look at China’s skies, all responsible corporate citizens want to do something about it. This is the truth.”
Faraday has yet to reveal the identity of its CEO, but its senior leadership team is a who’s who of former Tesla identities, including senior vice president Nick Sampson, the former director of vehicle and chassis engineering for the Model S sedan, who left the company in 2012.
Others include vice president for global manufacturing Dag Reckhorn, Tesla’s former director of manufacturing; human resources vice president Alan Cherry, who filled the same role with Tesla; and vice president of supply chain Tom Wessner, former purchasing director at Tesla.
The company’s chief designer, Richard Kim, is likewise no stranger to futuristic EV projects, having been the lead designer on BMW’s i3 and i8 concepts.
The company has declared a 2017 target for unveiling its first production car, although it could be sometime before full-scale manufacturing begins.