Faraday Future, a secretive electric-vehicle startup believed to be bankrolled by Chinese dot-com billionaire Jia Yueting, says it is weeks away from selecting a site for a $1 billion assembly plant in the U.S.
The Gardena, Calif., company announced last week that it is considering sites in California, Georgia, Louisiana and Nevada for its factory. The company has vowed to launch its first vehicle in 2017 as a high-tech rival for electric cars from Tesla Motors.
"Our business model is not based around moving a car out of the dealer," Nick Sampson, senior vice president of Faraday Future, told Bloomberg last week. "We envision this like a smartphone. The revenue starts once you get the device in the owners' hands. We're looking at subscriptions and apps and other opportunities."
Sampson, a longtime manager at Jaguar and Lotus Engineering, led the vehicle engineering team for the Tesla Model S from 2010 to 2012. Other Tesla veterans at Faraday include manufacturing chief Dag Reckhorn and purchasing chief Tom Wessner.
Yet the origins of well-heeled Faraday, which will not disclose the source of its funding or the identity of its founders, remain a mystery.
California incorporation forms for FF Inc., based in Gardena, list Chaoying Deng as CEO, the Las Vegas Sun reported in September. According to a LinkedIn profile, Deng is a corporate director at Le Vision Pictures, the film division of Chinese streaming-video giant LeTV. Jia Yueting, chairman and founder of LeTV, announced last year that he had started Leshi Super Electric Car Co. to compete with Tesla.
A spokeswoman for FF said the company will not comment on "speculation."
"A major source of our funding, an individual, has a public profile internationally and it is their desire to have FF stand on its own merits," the spokeswoman, Stacy Morris, said in a phone interview. "We have to respect their wishes."