Does the name Faraday Future ring a bell? In 2017, the Los Angeles-based electric startup revealed the FF 91 crossover at the Consumer Electronics Show and claimed production would begin in 2018. Five years later, the FF 91 has yet to hit public roads, sidelined while Faraday Future has battled financial issues. But Faraday Future is still kicking, apparently. The company revealed last week that it has built its first "production-intent" FF 91. If Faraday Future is to be believed — and we're not sure that's totally the case — production is "on schedule" to begin in the third quarter of 2022.
With Faraday Future having receded from the limelight for so long, a refresher is due. The company was founded in 2014 by Chinese businessman Jia Yueting in California. In 2015, the company announced that it would build a plant in North Las Vegas, Nevada. By the time the FF 91 — which was supposed to come to life in that factory — was unveiled in 2017, financial troubles had already begun. There were reports of accumulating debts, lawsuits from suppliers, and the claim from former employees that Faraday Future was actually two companies, with a separate entity set up in the Cayman Islands owning Faraday Future's intellectual property.
In July 2017, a Chinese court froze $182 million in assets belonging to Jia, his wife, and LeEco affiliates, and days later Faraday Future said its North Las Vegas factory plans had been scuppered. August saw Faraday Future sign a lease for a former Pirelli tire plant in Hanford, California, and a year later Faraday Future sold a 45 percent stake to Evergrande Group — a Chinese property developer incorporated in the Cayman Islands — for $854 million. But two months later Evergrande pulled out of the deal, and Faraday Future began massive layoffs and salary cuts. In 2019, Jia filed for personal bankruptcy with over $3 billion in debt and stepped down from his role as CEO. Things went quiet at Faraday Future until 2021 when the company went public on the Nasdaq stock exchange via a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company — the same strategy employed by startup Lucid Motors.
Throughout all the financial topsy-turbines, Faraday Future has continued to promise the FF 91. In 2018, the company said it had built a pre-production prototype at the Hanford plant and said production would begin in 2019. Now Faraday Future says it has built a "production-intent" FF 91 in Hanford. According to a Faraday Future spokesperson, the latest FF 91 vehicle features a new instrument panel, front and rear consoles, and production-intent exterior lighting. There is also new exterior badging, a new production-spec lidar assembly mounted on the roof, and production paint applied in the paint booth in the Hanford plant.
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