SAN FRANCISCO -- Chinese technology company LeEco on Wednesday made an inauspicious entry into the race to develop self-driving electric cars when its prototype car could not make it down the runway at a gala event here.
China's Le Holdings Co., also known as LeEco, planned to unveil its self-driving car prototype as part of a splashy U.S. launch for an array of technology products and services, including phones, televisions and entertainment production.
Executives from Qualcomm and Lionsgate joined LeEco founder, Chinese billionaire Jia Yueting, to underscore the importance of the U.S. market to one of China's biggest technology companies.
The choice of the San Francisco venue, in the backyard of luxury electric car maker Tesla and Alphabet Inc.'s Google self-driving car team, underscored the globalization of the race to develop connected, electric and eventually autonomous vehicles.
But when Jia made his appearance running down a long runway in a cloud of dry ice, he had to tell the audience his LeSee prototype car couldn't drive down the show's runway as planned.
"It shouldn't be me running out here, we didn't have any other choice," Jia told the audience, speaking through a translator. "What we wanted was me in the car, and the autonomous car drives me out."
The misfire was caused by a delay getting the LeSee car prototype from London -- where it is being used in the film "Transformers 5" -- to San Francisco, company officials said.