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A Wannabe Tesla Rival Appears to Be on a Knife Edge

December 12, 2017

The electric-car startup Faraday Future is reported to be in dire financial straits. Its FF91 car is billed to have a 378-mile range, 1,050 horsepower, and a 0-to-60 time of 2.39 seconds—but reports suggest that there may never be enough money to actually build it.

Rumors of financial instability at Faraday Future have been swirling for over 12 months now. This time last year, we explained that the company was burning cash and running up debts. It didn’t help that the company was having employees work on a self-driving car project at sister firm LeEco, which was founded by Chinese billionaire Jia Yueting (usually known as YT).

But a new investigation by the Verge is even more damning. It argues that grandiose future visions, with their resulting excessive hiring and lavish spending on facilities, are taking a big toll on the startup. From the report:

Four high-level former employees with knowledge of the company’s finances told the Verge as recently as early December that, barring a new cash infusion, Faraday Future only has enough funds to keep its payroll afloat through the end of the year.

The report adds that YT “is still meeting with potential investors to keep the company alive,” but adds that Faraday Future sources “admit that YT is the main financial backer of the company.” To add to the bad news, the Financial Times now reports that YT has been blacklisted on China’s national debtors’ database for failing to pay off loans. So those potential investors really, really need to come through.

Unsurprising, then, that the Verge investigation also explains that workers are leaving Faraday Future, or often not turning up to work if they’re still in their jobs. And it’s hard to build a car without cash or workers.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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