Secretive Chinese-Backed Company Challenging Tesla As World’s Go-To For Electric Cars

Reuters - Steve Marcus

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Eric Lieberman Managing Editor
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Tesla is not the only electric car company making noise. Faraday Future, a new electric car company backed by Chinese investors, is reportedly in the initial stages of testing its driverless cars.

The secretive business first revealed its plans in January and is looking to start production soon on a prototype in its new Nevada factory.

Very little is known about the Silicon Valley startup. It seems to have purposefully remained out of the spotlight and has been flying under the public’s radar.

The business was reportedly founded by two men who had previously worked at Lotus, a British sports car manufacturer. They found a way to attract some of the most respected and experienced automotive engineers and architects to come work for them, including several from Tesla, according to the International Business Times (IBT). Nick Sampson, Faraday Future’s product architect and senior vice president of research and development and engineering, for example, was an integral engineer at Tesla Motors.

According to the company’s website, “…today’s automotive industry simply isn’t keeping up with society’s evolving needs. We need something new. A new approach. A new range of vehicles that are designed around our changing lives.” The employee poaching is just one sign it wants to take on Tesla as the premier electric car company. Its overarching goal is “to ensure assertive performance, optimum safety, and an effortless, intuitive user experience.”

According to IBT, the cars were initially anticipated to only have technologies similar to Tesla’s autopilot, but it seems Faraday Future is looking to get a leg up over Tesla on the electric car market by going right for the technology that is predicted to become popular in a matter of years.

Tesla is also facing competition from Apple’s development of electric cars. According to Danielle Muoio of Tech Insider, “It’s known that Apple has hired driverless car experts.” Even CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick, referenced Apple’s development of autonomous vehicle technology during an interview on “The Late Show” with Stephen Colbert. (RELATED: 5 Reasons Why Elon Musk Should Fear Apple’s Electric Vehicles)


According to the Detroit News, Faraday Future wants to test out driverless car technology in Michigan, once the premier hub of American vehicle manufacturing. After satisfying Michigan’s requirements to produce proof of no-fault insurance and pay the registration fee, the company fulfilled its application for three manufacturer license plates. Michigan does not have a separate registration process for testing autonomous vehicles.

The company refused to confirm or deny reports the prototype is for autonomous cars. At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, Faraday Future showcased its Batman-esque, 1,000 horsepower electronic car called the FFZERO1. The car was reported to have autonomous capabilities and according the head of design, Richard Kim, “The FFZERO1 concept is an amplified version of the design and engineering philosophies informing GG’s forthcoming production vehicles.” In other words, the FFZERO1 concept car had “capability for full autonomy.

Tesla is mostly funded by American and Canadian investors, including the American government, while Faraday Future is backed by LeEco, the Chinese technology company founded by billionaire entrepreneur Jia Yueting. Faraday Future has not directly referenced Tesla Motors or its endeavors, despite the seeming commitment to entice talent from Tesla and create an electric autonomous vehicle.

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