Cracking The Mystery Of Faraday Future — Concepts Revealed

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Last week, the electric vehicle community was buzzing about a mystery Tesla competitor that was going to whoop the Model S into shape and finally give Tesla some competition. Reactions and perspectives ranged from claims of vaporware to the company being a front for Apple (which now seems unlikely as we’ll unpack below).

The speculation originated from an announcement from new EV contender Faraday Future regarding its plans to invest $1 billion into a new EV factory that would compete as an equal with Tesla. This sounds revolutionary and, by itself, would be a major investment into the EV space, but it also raised a lot of questions. First and foremost — how are they investing so much money into something when they don’t even have a concept car? Other questions quickly followed — why are they being so secretive about who their CEO is? Why haven’t they announced who’s backing them financially? Have they bitten off more than they can handle?

faraday future

Naturally, everyone dusted off their shovels and started digging. Digging into the big factory announcement; digging into the staff, which was curiously full of talent sniped from Tesla; digging into their funding; their building; the number of employees… and as the holes deepened, similarities started appearing. One of the first major scores was via the LA Times, when its journalists uncovered the secretive funding source responsible for giving life to Faraday in the first place:

“The company declined to identify its ownership and investors, but a review of incorporation papers filed with the California secretary of state’s office links Faraday to a Chinese media company operated by Jia Yueting, an entrepreneur who founded Leshi Internet Information & Technology.”

One discovery led to another, and after further investigation, the identity of Faraday Future’s CEO was revealed as well. After being confronted with the evidence, Faraday confirmed this key building block as well, unravelling the mystery one thread at a time…

“Faraday spokeswoman Stacy Morris confirmed that Chaoying Deng is the chief executive but said that she wasn’t involved in the day-to-day operations of the auto company.”

Faraday Future electric car

Jia YuetingLeshi Internet Information & Technology (aka LeTV) is owned by Chinese Billionaire Jia Yueting, who has personally expressed an interest in manufacturing EVs as a way to combat the rampant smog in China (something we covered back in December 2014). What’s interesting to me is that he has made his money on LeTV, which is relatively small ($12 billion market cap, 5,000 employees). In fact, comparing all of LeTV to Tesla, TSLA’s market cap is more than double that (today) at $30.1 billion, with 12,000 employees. It’s not a matter of who has the most money but rather a comparison of who has the most assets, the most trained employees for the task at hand, the most stable supply chain, and really, the most experience making and delivering electric cars, and thus, the most right to step up and not just talk about changing the world — but to actually do it. It’s also worth noting that they are investing a large chunk of their business assets and people into this venture. This means they have a lot more to lose and a much steeper uphill battle to fight to design, develop, and deliver EVs to paying customers.

→ Related: NextEV — Chinese Startup — Gets $500 Million of $1 Billion Targeted Funding

So, what does all this mean? These facts have been floating around the ‘net for a few days now… so what? Well, we took those key details and dug backwards. Working our way up that tangled skein through all its twists and turns until we found it. You see… Faraday Future has been hiding in plain sight. Their big secret is critical because if everyone realized that they actually “came out” back in August after initially being announced in January, this whole Faraday Future thing might look like what it actually is — a Chinese company slapping a “made (and designed) in America (sorta)” marketing package on top of an average Chinese car company. The reality is that we broke the news over on sister site Gas2 way back in August with funding, backstory, concept drawings… but at the time, we were still calling it “LeTV.” Sound familiar? Yup, me too.

While Faraday Future is less of a mystery today than yesterday and less yesterday than last week, there’s no guarantee that what they are doing will work. They seem to like playing the mystery card to stir up media buzz, but that’s one that doesn’t recycle well as people will eventually just stop listening.

On that note, I’ll stop talking and leave you with the LeTV concept car drawings… aka Faraday Future’s concept car. It sure sounds sexier than “another Chinese Tesla Model S knock off,” doesn’t it?:

Le-Supercar-1 Le-Siupercar-2

Editor’s Note: As Cynthia discussed in that December 2014 article about Jia Yueting, the relatively young billionaire has some traits clearly in common with Elon Musk. From his tech interests to entrepreneurial gifts to willingness (eagerness?) to take risks to concern for societal problems like air pollution, he seems to have the general chemistry needed to get an electric car startup off the ground. But will everything fall in place as dreamed?

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Kyle Field

I'm a tech geek passionately in search of actionable ways to reduce the negative impact my life has on the planet, save money and reduce stress. Live intentionally, make conscious decisions, love more, act responsibly, play. The more you know, the less you need. As an activist investor, Kyle owns long term holdings in Tesla, Lightning eMotors, Arcimoto, and SolarEdge.

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44 thoughts on “Cracking The Mystery Of Faraday Future — Concepts Revealed

  • The Apple angle fit on multiple levels. 1. Stated interest in making a car. 2. Poaching Tesla employees (as Faraday Future is also accused). 3. History of extreme secrecy.

    Does it make sense for a Chinese company to MANUFACTURE in the U.S.? Why not just manufacture it in China, for pennies on the dollar — where everything else is made?

    • Why not both?

    • My guess is its related to import restrictions and tariffs and stuff on automobiles. If built here there are not import tariffs and on a car those tariffs are probably expensive. Besides China is famous for building low quality cheap copied shit that’s disposable.

      I’m sure Chinese products have that reputation even in China. Los Angeles seems like an odd place to choose as a headquarters for a new auto manufacturer too. Who does that?

      Maybe they want to build a factory in Southern Nevada near Vegas so it isn’t next to GIgafactory outside of Reno? LA still seems like an odd choice for a car company.

  • Let’s see – Tesla has already produced three different
    vehicles – Roadster, Model S, Model X with the Model 3 already well into the
    design phases. They have factories already building vehicles. In comparison Faraday
    Future is thinking about an EV. They are talking maybe producing something. In
    reality this probably means nothing from Faraday, that anyone in the US can buy,
    until something like 2020 -2021. New term competition from Faraday – not a

  • A Steve Jobs wannabe. I just hope he can at least match Elon Musk.

    • “at least” 🙂

      Between Tesla, SpaceX, and Solar City I don’t think matching Elon Musk is exactly easy.

    • I welcome tech titans joining the EV race. It makes it more interesting.

      Having just Tesla to talk about is unsustainable.

      • I just hope egos don’t get in the way of the fact that the Tesla supercharging spec is the best one available today by a decent margin. Both in performance (throughput) and form factor.

        It’s an open standard but Tesla would not allow other manufacturers to use the Tesla supercharging stations without sharing the cost of that infrastructure which is understandable.

        They are still welcome to use the spec without using the tesla branded supercharging stations without paying a percentage of their cost. They could also fund “white box” chargers that use the Tesla plug standard without the Tesla name splashed on the sign.

        They could probably even get away with calling it a “supercharging station” as long as they are spec compatible with Tesla.

        What EV doesn’t need is another incompatible charging spec which is something Apple tends to be famous for. I would rather see the manufacturers embrace the best one which is the Tesla spec.

        The other specs were made standards sooner but the plug is very inferior and its still early in the game so there is no better time than now to move away from the old inferior specs before we are stuck with them.

  • The phone and smart TV? I doubt anyone could do something as blatantly copycat in the US without having their pants sued off. Apple has sued Samsung for less. You can get away with it in China. And you need to manufacture in China, to sell in China. But Tesla has put its patents right out, so anyone can do it. I doubt it is so easy. If you sell in the US, you can’t steal designs or employees without more repercussions.
    Its easy to hire some contract engineers and enlist an electronics factory to make an electronic product.
    EVs require a supply chain and battery sources. Thats not so easy. But they have stolen some Tesla employees. On we go.
    There are plenty of failed EV companies. Will this one be successful? They are going to have their hands full with competition from Tesla and GM.
    How amazing. Suddenly the market is alive with new EVs.

    • It is going to be interesting to see how it plays out for sure. I’m hopeful that they bring innovative, unique EVs to market…but I’m not optimistic. Tesla? yes, BYD? sure. Nissan, GM, and a few others…yeah…but not yet on these guys. We’ll see.

  • This is so weird.

    On the one hand everyone celebrates Tesla for taking on the big guys with no experience making cars and limited resources at a time when the establishment was going ” They’ll never make it against big ol’ GM and Ford”

    Then another company tries to do that everyone here gets all “They’ll never make it against big ol’ Tesla”.

    It’s deja vu all over again.

    • Oversimplified. Not exactly like Straubel never dealt with EVs before. Everyone makes it out like Musk is doing it all and all you need to do is be a boy internet genius. Thats wrong.
      The road ahead is fraught with difficulty for any EV startup. At least two other large manufacturers are offering 200 mile EVs and many more are offering lower range EVs. This is car manufacturing, not contract electronics.
      In the past, the list of competitors was all dinky EV startups. No major manufacturer made one. Then along came Nissan with the Leaf. And Tesla. Since then Coda has hit the skids, BYD has fooled around, Aptera came and went, and then there is Think City, and so on.
      Only Tesla and Nissan thrived. The rest puttered along or died out. Thats the sad but true skinny of EVs.
      Even the big majors didn’t do so well. The MB didn’t take off. And the mini and Focus were quota cars. Mitsubishi MieV never took off. So chances of any new EV startup vs the major car companies and the few EVs that succeeded? Not great. Not impossible. Just nothing like a sure bet.

      • To be fair, BYD is not puttering along…just playing in a different pond with fleet and mass transit (taxis and buses). They are doing well, have a HUGE base of Litium Ion production to work off of and massive expansion underway.

        • All true. BYD switched to buses. When you confine to the passenger car market, BYD hasn’t done that well.
          The real players are Nissan and Tesla, but now BMW and VW are coming on and soon GM, too. Pretty soon everyone will make an EV.
          Me, too.

        • And they also dominate the Chinese electric car market, which is now bigger than the US market some months.

    • “everyone celebrates Tesla for taking on the big guys”

      Not until AFTER they produced the cars. Before the Roadster, people were like, “Tesla who? The Serbian guy?”

      Tesla is the exception that proves the rule. There have been dozens of failure EV startups… and the quantifiable reason why Tesla is supported now, is because of their actual production… not because they were hyped in the beginning.

      Faraday Future shares more in common with the dozens of FAILURES, than they do with Tesla. Every one of the failures had hype and hope and money at some point too.

    • Just to sound one cautionary note, because no-one else is saying it:

      Tesal hasn’t actually made it, yet.

      They have great products by all accounts, and have shaken up the industry.

      But they still haven’t turned a profit, and don’t expect to before 2020:

      (Don’t know why that URL doesn’t match the story content!)

      “Tesla Motors Inc. Chief Executive Elon Musk told an auto industry gathering here on Tuesday that his luxury electric-car company won’t be profitable on a basis that includes executive compensation and charges until 2020.

      “Making a rare visit to the heart of the U.S. auto industry during the city’s annual auto extravaganza, the Silicon Valley executive said Tesla’s Model 3 will need to be in full production mode by the end of the decade to turn a profit under generally-accepted accounting principles.”

      They may well achieve that… but it hasn’t actually happened yet. And until they are a profitable company, well, it would be a tad ironic to call them ‘sustainable.’

      • You are technically correct, but they are making a healthy margin on the cars they are making, and growing very fast. They only made 300 something cars Q4 2012 versus over 11500 last quarter. In my book Tesla has absolutely succeeded up to this point. Cotinuing to succeed is not going to be easy, but then succeding against them won’t be either.

    • Unless they produce a car with hundreds of bugs and fundamental design flaws (Fisker) they deserve the benefit of doubt in my books. If the CEO is engaged, and they have talented people, and put in a lot of effort, they will succeed.

  • Glad to see more companies in the EV business with good financing.

  • One way to get government buy in is to have leaders spend big on capital projects. This is the factory and infrastructure. Once investors like state governments are locked in, they tend to be as compliant as possible so to not have their investment go south. Tesla did this in Nevada. Ford, GM et al have done this for 100 years. Spread manufacturing around and have states pony up as much as possible. It also wins favorable business friendly votes. Sadly, many of these big manufacturing projects rarely benefit towns and states in the long run. The rust belt and US southeast are loaded with shuttered factories built with taxpayer support.

    China engineering and construction (E&C) companies are the biggest in the world right now. E&C presents a country’s muscle and brains, i.e. Panama Canal. China E&C is starting to go global just like Bechtel and European E&C have for years. Nothing says China has leaped greatly from the mid 1970s cultural revolution to the present more than doing a big E&C project in the US. Like the high speed rail project in California. I’m guessing China E&C will build this company’s plants.

    If you’re an EV fan you should be happy about this. Who cares which company wins as long as zero emissions is the goal. It’s not like Musk came up with anything new for Tesla, either. Tesla is just pieced together well. And supported by America’s last stronghold. Marketing.

  • China will build many electric vehicles in the future. And they will want many, if not most, to be able to compete in international markets. Currently China businesses can have access to very cheap capital, thanks to Chinese savers having their bank accounts slowly stolen from by inflation rates that on average outstrip interest recieved. Unfortunately there is a great deal of corruption in China so one has to do some digging to find out which companies are serious contenders and which have a culture that is focused on kelptomania to make it.

    An interesting thing is luxury cars don’t need high performance to suceed in China. This is because the large cheeses who buy such vehicles generally have drivers and so only care that the ride is smooth and are not impressed by fast acceleration. But as has been demonstrated by irresponsible sons of large cheeses smashing them into things, there is definitely a market for high performance vehicles.

  • And I don’t think Tesla will have a serious competitor for a while, but it is always possible that it will merge with an existing large car manufacturer seeking to obtain their mojo, possibly after Elon Musk leaves the planet.

    But there is room for plenty more electric car manufactuers in the world besides Tesla, and while the people behind the new companies might dream of making a Tesla killer they will probably be happy with just capturing a share of an expanding market.

    But if instead of Faraday Futures they had gone and called themselves Edison Eternity, then yeah, they would definitely be out to get Tesla.

    • I can’t see a reason for Tesla to merge with any other car manufacturer. Merger would mean that Tesla would get stuck with people with holdover ICE mentality and dealer networks.

      Tesla, if they keep going as they are going, will have no problem acquiring expansion funds. They can build factories or buy empty ones. They can fill those buildings with the exact equipment they need rather than having to revamp some other company’s ICE assembly lines.

      • There is absolutely no reason for Tesla to merge with another car manufacturer. It makes no sense at all. But, looking at large companies, it is not uncommon for them to do things that absolutely wouldn’t have made sense in their early days. So it’s still possible, just like President Trump is possible.

  • wheels are last century

  • I’ve seen enough super car EVs. We don’t need more $100K luxury vehicles. On with an EV for everybody.

    • It is not possible to make a handful of cheap EV’s. The EV for everybody has to be manufactured and sold in large numbers, with relatively few defects. Recalling and fixing a lot of cars ain’t cheap. Take a look at VW. You need billions in the bank to survive something like that. So, Tesla can’t do it yet, but every time production increases, they get closer to being able to do it. Nissan has the heft, but they need an EV they can sell more of, which could easily happen as battery technology gets cheaper/better.

    • this is not just about money, it is impossible to start at the low end with new technology and not have it fail.

  • Since I first heard of Faraday Future… they seemed like copycats just trying to lure naive investors based on irrational exuberance for Tesla.

    Tesla’s success, means Copycats will thrive too.

    Faraday Future is probably encouraging this Apple rumor because of the positive hype that Tesla had when everyone was saying “Apple should buy out Tesla”. Then “Google will buy out Tesla”. Association, even if completely fabricated is a marketing strategy.

    Faraday Futures now seem to want a piece of the excitement now that people understand what a “Gigafactory” is.. So they want to lure money and interest, by copycatting the Tesla buzz.

    Step back from all the mimickery, and ask, “does a Billion Dollar factory make sense for a company that hasn’t even proven demand with a single prototype?”

    Remember, the folks involved still benefit even if this whole idea flops. They just need to exit at the right time.

  • Faraday Futures apparently would like people to refer to them as FF, but maybe F squared would be better or F2 just so long as Bernie Ecclestone did not sue.

    What strikes me is how Apple, FF, BYD and Tesla are pouring billions of dollars into building the next generation of EVs while the existing auto manufacturers are still so tentative. Even though they have so much going for them in terms of existing skill sets and manufacturing facilities they just won’t commit big time. Even good old Nissan is a long way from all in but at least they are trying.

    • The existing auto makers are wise for not pouring billions into the electric cars. Why? Because the technology is still new and they’re heavily invested in gas cars. They don’t want to pour billions into a technology that is constantly being updated. It would cost them more to change into electric car manufacturers. The infrastructure isn’t ready for electric cars yet either.

      • There’s some truth in what you say. Battery prices are still high and existing car companies can sit back and wait for a couple more years for prices to fall enough for EVs to reach purchase price parity with ICEVs.

        But there’s a problem if they delay too much. The companies that are already in production mode are going to grab the early market and once people buy a brand they tend to return to that brand.

        And there may well be a battery squeeze for a few years. Tesla is building batteries for Tesla. LG Chem is also building a lot of capacity but GM is likely to grab a lot of that leaving the other ~20 manufacturers scrambling for supply.

        Tesla is on route to grabbing a sizable hunk of the market. Those sales are going to come out of the market share other companies used to enjoy.

        You kind of miss it in terms of infrastructure. The infrastructure is mostly in place for EVs. The grid and generation are in place. Over 50% of all US drivers have an outlet they can use for charging where they park. Tesla is doing a good job of installing rapid charging and destination charging stations.

        Things are a heck better developed for EVs than they were for ICEVs when Henry built the T.

  • The American people will not take kindly to a Chinese car company.

    • I heard that sort of thing as Honda, Toyota and Datsun started selling in the US. Look at where we are now.

      People may want to buy US, but they will buy price and quality. If China delivers, China will sell

      • I was going for more of a political angle. Honda, Toyota and Datsun are Japanese. Cars from a close ally are very different than a car from a non ally – even a flat-out enemy to some. I would much rather buy a Tesla than a Faraday.

        • China is not our enemy.

          We started importing Japanese cars in 1957. Twelve years earlier we were fighting against them in WWII. China was our ally in that war. We’ve never fought a war with China, nor has China threatened the US.

          China is an economic and manufacturing rival. China’s played some hardball, but so has the US.

          My attitude is that we are all on this planet and we share a climate that is changing in ways that will hurt us all. If someone, anywhere, on the plant comes up with solutions we should applaud their success.

  • The funny thing I just noticed last night: The back of that 2nd pic has the name “LeCar” on it… I guess anyone very familiar with LeTV could have put 2 and 2 together pretty quickly, especially given Jia’s previous comments. 😛 😀

  • Just waiting on my shot to show them how it’s done.

  • Good luck..

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