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Faraday Future: The Tesla Motors Killer?

By Rex Moore – Mar 4, 2016 at 7:46AM

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A mysterious company took CES by storm in 2016, but it is now facing challenges any new automotive company would be familiar with.

Some of the biggest buzz from this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas came from Faraday Future -- the self-described "Tesla killer" that debuted a futuristic electric concept car. Faraday is now riding a huge PR wave that it hopes will help it challenge both Tesla and BMW in the upper tier of electric-only vehicles.

However, Faraday is still quite a ways from bringing a car to market -- probably at least a couple years out -- and that's if it happens at all.

Our roving tech reporter Rex Moore was in Las Vegas for the big event, and -- two months later -- is finding there are more questions than answers about this mysterious company.

A full transcript follows the video.

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Rex Moore: The Faraday display was a magnet during CES, literally buzzing with excitement as tech geeks jostled to see — a concept car that will never actually be mass produced. Choosing to display something that will never see the light of day is just one of the oddities around this very mysterious company.

Nick Sampson (Faraday Future Sr. VP): Rather than show the exact product, we want to show something that symbolizes who we are, and Faraday Future are trying to be a very dynamic, very creative, very fast organization and what better way to show that than by showing a racing-type car.

Rex Moore: Faraday Future says it's …

Nick Sampson (Faraday Future Sr. VP): A mixture between an automotive company and a consumer electronics company. We’re a tech company that’s aiming to be really neither of those worlds. To be a bit of both.

Rex Moore: We don't even know if it wants to build cars for retail purchase, or as part of a ride-sharing or ride-renting future, or both. As a video on its website says: "What if you didn’t so much own a car… as use one whenever you need it?"

Faraday tried to stay under under the radar for the past 18 months, but broke its silence when it announced it had chosen the state of Nevada to build a one-billion dollar manufacturing facility. But this, too, is not quite so straightforward. The city of North Las Vegas is celebrating an anticipated 4,500 jobs the plant would add to the region.

But -- in a hugely underreported story -- Nevada State Treasurer Dan Schwartz is worried Faraday won’t meet the financing requirements his state set forth. The company's biggest financial backer is Chinese businessman Jia Yueting whose own company, Leshi, halted trading on the Chinese stock exchange in December, and has still not resumed. With the Chinese market tumbling, Schwartz is concerned about Leshi's stock price when it does resume trading, and that Yueting simply won’t have the capital to help Faraday build the Nevada plant. Schwartz is just back from China on a previously scheduled trip, and told the Los Angeles Business Journal quote -- "He certainly isn’t making any money to fund a billion-dollar car facility."

Schwartz later issued a press release, the gist being: Let's talk again, Faraday, when Leshi begins trading again ... that's currently expected on March 7.

The next few weeks will go a long way toward telling us whether Faraday Future’s future is bright, or if it will stall out before even getting started.

Reporting from CES in Las Vegas, I’m Motley Fool analyst Rex Moore.

Rex Moore has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Tesla Motors. The Motley Fool recommends BMW. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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