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Faraday changes plan for US plant

By PAUL WELITZKIN in New York | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-02-03 09:56

The Chinese-funded electric car manufacturer Faraday Future, which had said it will build a 3-million-square-foot production plant in Nevada, will build a much smaller facility but still plans construction of the $1 billion plant, public and company officials said.

"I don't think they are downsizing but instead will construct the plant in phases," said Qiong Liu, city manager of North Las Vegas, in an interview on Thursday. "Faraday will build a 650,000-square-foot facility later this year."

Faraday, an affiliate of Beijing-based Leshi Internet Information and Technology Corp and backed by LeEco founder Jia Yueting, said in a statement this week that it still plans to build the larger plant but gave no timetable.

Liu said Faraday is completing engineering work on the plant. "Their timeline is to have the shell of the building ready by the end of August and then have the rest of the building done by the end of October," she said.

Liu said Faraday expects to start testing a vehicle later this year and "start production in 2018", she added.

A cash crunch at LeEco and Faraday's missed payments to a contractor working on the factory last year spurred skepticism about the company. Last November, Nevada State Treasurer Dan Schwartz expressed concerns about Faraday's ability to complete the project.

In 2015 Nevada lawmakers approved an incentive package valued at about $215 million for the plant. Liu said the incentives are structured so they are paid out when the company meets certain requirements. "They (Faraday) haven't received a penny of the incentives yet," Liu said. "Faraday is determined to keep its commitment."

Faraday unveiled its first production vehicle called the FF91 at the Consumer Electronics Show last month in Las Vegas.

Eric Paul Dennis of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan, said that Faraday is becoming more realistic about what it can accomplish.

"I think Faraday's initial ambitions were unrealistic. Their plans to build a mega-factory and introduce multiple models on a short time-table were very risky and probably impossible. It was ridiculous to think such a factory could be designed, built, and operational before 2018 - even with unlimited funding," he wrote in an email.

"Their recent restructuring actually makes me think they are beginning to mature as a company and think strategically. Starting small, focusing on quality and responding to the market receptivity of one or two models is a better approach, in my opinion, to establish a viable auto manufacturing operation," Dennis said.

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