Until the start of this year, little was known about enigmatic company Faraday Future. Rumored to be bringing a new electric car to market to rival the Tesla Model S, Faraday Future — or FF as it prefers to be known — promised the world that it would preview its revolutionary electric vehicle designs at a special launch event at CES 2016.
Then, shortly before that reveal, long before any cars had been unveiled to the public or even the motoring press, FF announced it was considering building a $1 billion factory at the APEX industrial park just north of Las Vegas. A park which until recently was better known for the more than 35 medical marijuana companies which applied to open production facilities there.
Following a special session of the Nevada legislature at the end of last year, a plan of tax incentives, abatements and infrastructure improvements worth $335 million was approved specifically to secure the APEX industrial park as the site of FF’s facility. Then, just days into the new year, FF held its big CES reveal event, showcasing not a prototype of its future electric car as hoped but a fanciful single-seat race car that will never make it into production.
Today, it held its special groundbreaking ceremony in Las Vegas, coinciding with the official ribbon-cutting ceremony at the APEX industrial park.
Following a set of short speeches involving company executives, Mayor John Lee of North Las Vegas and Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval — which the company live-streamed to the Internet via YouTube — a ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony took place in the Las Vegas desert.
FF-branded orange safety hats and stainless-steel shovels were of course, in abundance.
But while FF is now the latest in a long line of future tech companies to find a base in North Las Vegas — including Hyperloop Technologies and Bigelow Aerospace — we’re still no wiser as to what it is FF will be making at its $1 billion facility.
Talking ahead of the groundbreaking ceremony, Dag Reckhorn, Vice President of Global Manufacturing at FF, was eager to emphasise the speed at which FF hoped to build its facility. Like its vehicular development process — which he reiterated will be far quicker than the automotive industry standard — Reckhorn said groundwork at the APEX park location will begin later this quarter, with the complete 3-million square foot site fully developed in just two years’ time.
“We are moving extremely quickly for a project of this size,” he said. “Our aim is to complete a program that would normally take four years and do it in half the time, while still doing it right.”
Over the next ten years, FF says it will create approximately 4,500 jobs at its $1 billion production facility. Half of them, it promises, will be filled by local residents.
Last month, following concerns that FF was not paying its bills on time and rumors that suggested biggest backer, Chinese Internet billionaire Jia Yueting, was financially insolvent, the state of Nevada asked FF to put up a $75 million bond to ensure taxpayers aren’t left high and dry should the company fail to deliver. But at today’s ceremony, those fears appeared to be far from view, suggesting that FF has been working hard on all fronts to impress more than just electric car advocates.
While FF has yet to share any details about the production car it says will revolutionise the world — save for the animated chassis designs we saw at CES — its PR team has been working extremely hard in recent weeks to ensure everyone knows who it is. Aside from becoming the headline sponsor for the Long Beach Formula E e-Prix earlier this month, FF has also committed to donating $1 million to local schools in North Las Vegas every year for the next six years, a promise we’re sure has curried favor from local legislators.
Claiming that it has sourced more than 90 percent of the parts it needs to build its first production electric car from tier-one automotive parts suppliers from around the world, FF seems to be gearing itself up for an official reveal event in the next year or so, with full production due some time by 2018 — the same time that rival automaker Tesla Motors will be ramping up production of its popular Model 3 electric car.
Unlike Tesla however, FF has nothing to show us yet. Nor does it have the eight-years of automotive production experience Tesla Motors has amassed since the first Tesla Roadsters rolled off the production line in 2008.
As we’ve said before, we’re eager to see more electric automakers enter the market and we wish FF all the very best. But until FF can share a working design intent vehicle — or even an early working prototype — we must remain skeptical as to just how capable FF is of executing its grand master plan.
Especially when its ground breaking ceremony — like its CES reveal — was very thin on details.
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