Faraday Future has promised to unveil its first production electric car at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January. But the Chinese-backed startup may end up limping to the finish line.
Faraday appeared at CES 2016 with a flashy concept car and promises to launch its first production model within two years. Since then, the company has experienced financial problems, and last month suspended work at the site of its planned factory in North Las Vegas, Nevada. Adding to Faraday’s troubles, two prominent executives resigned last week, according to The Verge.
Citing anonymous sources, the website reported that Marco Mattiacci, chief brand and commercial officer, and Joerg Sommer, vice president for product marketing and growth, and that their names had been removed from Faraday’s website.
The sources also reportedly said that Mattiacci and Sommer may have been let go in a round of “belt tightening,” freeing up money used to pay their salaries for other uses.
Prior to joining Faraday, Mattiacci was president and CEO of Ferrari North America and Ferrari Asia Pacific, as well as managing director and team principal of the automaker’s Formula One race team. Sommer previously held an executive position at Volkswagen, and was an executive at Daimler, Opel, and Renault prior to that. He was at Faraday for just three months, while Mattacci was with the company for only seven months.
Their departures are the latest indication of trouble within the automaker. Last month, construction work at Faraday’s Nevada factory site halted; the company said it aimed to restart in the new year. Faraday broke ground on the factory, which has an estimated price tag of $1 billion, in April, but relatively little work has reportedly been done at the site since then. Prior to that, lead contractor AECOM had warned Faraday that it was late on a $21 million deposit for an escrow account to cover material costs and subcontractor work.
The automaker’s main backer, Chinese billionaire Jia Yueting, has also expressed concern about the financial health of his LeEco tech empire. In a letter to employees last month, he said LeEco was running out of cash, in part because of spending on automotive projects. Besides Faraday Future, LeEco has a partnership with Aston Martin, and is believed to be associated with another U.S. electric-car startup, Lucid Motors.
Despite the circumstances, Faraday has not indicated any plans to cancel its CES electric-car unveiling, and continues to release a steady stream of teasers in an effort to build hype. Those teasers hint at a crossover body, but provide little information about the car’s design.
We do know that the production model will use the Variable Product Architecture platform that underpinned Faraday’s FFZero1 concept car, and will have lithium-ion battery cells from LG Chem. That is, assuming further shakeups don’t imperil Faraday’s ability to put the car into production.