Meet Faraday Future, Tesla's Newest Rival from China

Faraday Future is a secretive EV (electric vehicle) startup that's been building the suspense for its concept car ahead of its big reveal at the Consumer Electronics Show next week.

Since its entry into the EV market, Faraday has been branded as Tesla Motors Inc.'s (Nasdaq: TSLA) biggest rival. This label derives solely from its "electric car" status.

On Wednesday, the company released a teaser video for its first vehicle, which is expected to be chock full of high-tech features. The video doesn't show much, just the shadow of an automobile driving down an otherwise empty highway.

Still, it's more than anyone has seen of the car thus far.

While specificities about its vehicles remain vague, Nick Sampson, a former Tesla director who now works for Faraday, gave Bloomberg insight on what the company intends to achieve in the market. "We will launch a single model [electric car] and follow with a range of vehicles in a faster way than others have achieved," Sampson said on Nov. 5. "We're looking at seven different vehicles."

Various tech-centric websites have tried to delve deeper to unveil details about Faraday's upcoming concept car and its parent company.

Here's what we know about the China-based company that's been keeping itself in "stealth mode" until CES next week...

Faraday Future Set Up in America to Take Down Tesla

  • Faraday Future is owned by Chinese media firm LeTV and funded by Chinese tech entrepreneur Jia Yueting. Yueting is chairman and CEO of Leshi Television, a popular Chinese online video site.
  • The company had been exploring sites in California, Georgia, and Louisiana to build its first plant. However, on Nov. 22, authorities in Nevada said they'd approved a $335 million incentive package to get Faraday Future to open a billion-dollar factory outside of Las Vegas. The company will create 4,500 direct jobs in the area.
  • The company aims to have its first production vehicle on the road in just a few years...

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It hopes to begin manufacturing by 2017 so that its first model will be available to the public by 2020.

  • Speaking to Tech Insider on Dec. 28, Richard Kim, Faraday's head designer, said the company aims to make a car that's "more like a tablet." His vision is for drivers to interact with the systems inside the car rather than remotely controlling them with their smartphones (like Tesla drivers currently do).
  • Kim also told Tech Insider that he believes "a good piece of technology is not screaming for technology attention, it is sort of seamless in the background - like my thermostat, it knows everything about how I like it in my house and I don't have to tell it." Kim said Faraday cars will get to know driver preferences, like preferred temperature, frequently visited locations, and driving style.
  • Faraday is chock-full of former Tesla employees. Besides Sampson, the company's website lists former Tesla manufacturing director Dag Reckhorn as vice president of manufacturing. Former Tesla HR president Alan Cherry will be Faraday's VP of human resources. And Tom Wessner is vice president of Faraday's supply chain; he was once Tesla's director of purchasing. However, Kim was quick to point out that it also sought experience outside of the auto business, particularly outside of Tesla. According to The Verge on Nov. 19, Faraday sought expertise in the aerospace industry, the medical device industry, and the Internet industry, among others. It gathered employees with a diverse range of skills, including new hires from Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), SpaceX, and Hulu.
  • Richard Kim also told The Verge that the Tesla comparisons were expected and not altogether unfounded. However, he believes Faraday is creating an even more innovative vehicle than Elon Musk's EV. "Many people look at Tesla and think they've done it differently than the traditional auto industry - and they have," he said. "But there's other ways and other things we can capitalize on."

Tell us what you think about Faraday Future and its vision for the electric car. Find us on Twitter @moneymorning and like us on Facebook!

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