Will troubled automotive start-up Faraday Future really begin the next phase of constructing its factory this year? It doesn’t sound like Jia Yueting, the Chinese billionaire behind the company, thinks so. Instead he said it depends on whether or not the company receives enough funding to continue construction. No shit.
In the interview with Chinese news organization Yicai Global last month, Jia apparently disclosed that his parent company, Leshi Holdings, received 16.8 billion yuan (about $2.44 billion U.S.) in financing, but that isn’t for any of his car projects like FF or LeEco.
As Yicai described it, Jia still was candid that Leshi’s entire capital capacity isn’t well:
“We have already done a few types of funding, and we will start the Round-A financing (for the FF) as our next step,” Jia said. “The government has tightened policies on foreign investment, but this will have no great impact on FF funding. In terms of level of importance and urgency, we will get financing, preferably from North America and Europe, but will also consider funding from China,” he added.
By the sound of it, FF hasn’t even begun to collect the necessary financing for its first production vehicle, the FF 91. Mind you, Jia said all of this about two weeks after the FF 91 was debuted at this year’s CES conference in Vegas.
The story goes on (emphasis, bleakly, ours):
Regarding FF’s goal to achieve mass-production in 2018, Jia said, “Everything is ready, and we are eyeing funding results now. Whether funding is in place or not will determine the progress of the entire plant and its construction.” Leshi is in partnership with Los Angeles-based Faraday Future Inc. to jointly develop the latter’s intelligent electronic concept cars.
I mean, what’s there to say? In the span of just over a month, the company weirdly pushed back on Twitter, calling out reporters in response to critical reports; it threw a reputable supplier under the bus after being hit with a $1.8 million suit for failing to pay a contractually set deal; and now it’s planning what appears to be a smaller-scale factory in place of the $1 billion proposed facility in Nevada. (Jia, this week, denied to Yicai Global that the plant is compromised.)
Really, no one here is advocating for newcomers to avoid an attempt to break into the auto industry. They should. But Faraday’s served up plenty of conflicting intel—the main line has been that construction will restart in “early 2017,” so any day now—and that’s probably not a service to the company’s 1400 employees, including an exec we spoke to last month who genuinely expressed that he believes the financial troubles have been abated.
So, maybe it’s still too early, but given Jia’s recent remarks, you have to wonder: is phase two of construction actually going to begin this year? What are the chances you think we’ll see more than dirt being shuffled around?