Faraday Future, an LA-based EV startup backed primarily by Chinese investors, announced that it has leased a former tire factory in Hanford, California, to produce its new EV with self-driving capability.
The new Faraday Future facility is a one million square-foot space that used to house a Pirelli Tire plant, which shut down almost 15 years ago. Faraday hopes to use this space to churn out its luxury FF91 vehicle, described by the company as a crossover sport utility and multi-purpose car.
Stefan Krause, Faraday’s CEO, said the company wants to release a car with self-driving capability. When autonomous vehicles are allowed by US regulations, the corresponding software for self-driving in the FF91 will be activated.
“We wanted to build an electric car, but also a connected car — a car that will contain artificial intelligence and be self driving,” Krause told The Business Journal. “So our car will have a technology advantage over many of the existing cars today.”
The planned Faraday Future production plant will be the first for the startup. The FF91 was revealed at the US Consumer Electronics Show in January 2017, receiving a claimed 60,000 “reservations” in the first 36 hours.
The company claims the car will have a range of up to 378 miles on a fully-charged battery. Krause told The Business Journal that production in the new factory will begin mid-2018. He hopes to employ around 600 people and produce up to 6,000 cars in the facility’s first year, ramping up production after that. The company has stayed mum on the price range of the vehicle, but according to a recent USA Today visit to the company’s HQ, the FF91 is similar to Lucid Motors’ proposed $160,000 EV.
Faraday’s employees have already begun putting their mark on the new space, painting the company’s logos and colors onto the old tire plant. Hanford’s City Manager, Darrel Pyle, hopes the factory will infuse new job opportunities into the city. Tesla’s Gigafactory in Reno has shown how such an EV plant can benefit its city.
“I can imaging everything from people pushing a broom to engineers, electricians, accounting people, marketing people, [human resources] people, transit people, computer-aided drafting — those kinds of careers that are so in desire for young people going to college,” Pyle told The Business Journal.
Krause commented on Tesla’s release of the Model 3 in relation to Faraday Future’s announcement in an interview with USA Today.
“There is a value to being second to Tesla, it’s a good market position. At BMW, we were an endless second to Mercedes-Benz, until we beat them,” the former BMW CFO said. The Model 3 “is another bold move from Tesla, and I really admire them for this. I hope all the EV companies do well, because it’s important to get the word out.”