A timeline of Faraday Future and Nevada, from great expectations to a factory freeze
Monday’s announcement that electric car start-up Faraday Future planned to halt construction on a $1 billion factory in North Las Vegas capped off two years of rollercoaster fortunes for both the company and Nevada officials hungry to spur development in a part of the state hardest hit by the recession.
Despite a flurry of positive outlooks and a glitzy ceremonial groundbreaking last April, Faraday has hit a series of roadblocks in its quest to construct a 3 million square-foot factory ever since lawmakers approved a conditional $335 million in tax incentives for the startup.
Faraday initially planned to begin manufacturing cars at the site in late 2017, but in the end, has only installed some sewer infrastructure and leveled out dirt on its 940-acre parcel at the Apex Industrial Park in North Las Vegas. Scaling back its ambitions, the company is now looking to diversify its investor base and find an existing building where it could get production going sooner than starting from scratch.
Below, we’ve laid out a timeline of events overviewing the company and its history with Nevada:
BEGINNINGS & SPECIAL SESSION
- April 2014: Faraday Future founded by Chinese billionaire Jia Yueting and former Tesla executive Nick Sampson and enters a secretive “stealth mode.”
- 2015: Rumors fly about which companies are involved in Faraday, with some outlets suggesting it’s Apple. The company adds names to its executive webpage, including numerous former Tesla employees such as Dag Reckhorn, former manufacturing director of the Tesla Model S.
- October 2015: Gov. Brian Sandoval goes on a trade mission to China, where he met with Jia.
- Nov. 5, 2015: Faraday Future announces it will spend $1 billion on a U.S. car factory. It says it’s considering sites in California, Nevada, Georgia and Louisiana.
- Dec. 9, 2015: News breaks that Faraday Future wants to locate its car factory in North Las Vegas. Jia, who founded the media conglomerate LeTV and styles himself after Apple’s late Steve Jobs, signs a letter to Nevada officials and reveals himself as the primary funder. “We plan to revolutionize the automobile industry by creating an integrated, intelligent mobility system that protects the earth and improves the living environment of mankind,” he wrote.
- Dec. 16-19, 2015: Lawmakers convene in Carson City for a special session, where they approve a “middle tier” of tax abatements that is between the incentive level all businesses qualify for and the level for very large projects, such as Tesla’s Gigafactory. The incentive package, worth $335 million, includes $120 million in infrastructure investments at Apex Industrial Park in North Las Vegas.
DEVELOPMENT & CONSTRUCTION
- Jan. 4, 2016: Faraday unveils FFZERO1, a “car of concepts,” at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It draws comparisons to the Batmobile. Gov. Brian Sandoval later says of it, “I was incredibly impressed … It validated the fact that Faraday Future is the real deal and that they’re going to be a player in the electric vehicle industry.”
- Jan. 22, 2016: The board of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development gives final approval to tax incentives for Faraday Future that were approved by the Legislature. Sandoval says projects like this come along once in a generation, and says “I want to thank you for your belief in Nevada.”
- March 3, 2016: Faraday agrees to put up a $75 million bond to protect the state from losing out on front-end investments if the company doesn’t succeed.
- May 19, 2016: The GOED board approves $500,000 for the College of Nevada to buy simulators that can train high school students for advanced manufacturing jobs like those at the Faraday factory.
- April 13, 2016: Faraday holds a “ceremonial” groundbreaking for construction on the 3-million square foot factory at Apex. Gov. Brian Sandoval and other state leaders attended the event, which included a champagne toast and dignitaries turning dirt at the site.
- May 23, 2016: Faraday announces plans to move some workers to Southern Nevada, including some who will work from an office at the North Las Vegas City Hall.
- July 28, 2016: Public works officials approve permits allowing Faraday to begin grading at its 900-acre factory site.
- Oct. 17, 2016: Multinational firm AECOM announces that it will be the general contractor for Faraday’s $500 million factory, which would include a water feature, dark sky-compliant outdoor lighting fixtures, skylights for daytime manufacturing and rooftop solar panels. “A revolutionary approach to transportation requires an unprecedented manufacturing facility, and AECOM is thrilled to be working with Faraday Future to help make its vision real in Nevada,’’ AECOM CEO Michael S. Burke said in a press release at the time.
- Oct. 21, 2016: News breaks that Faraday fell behind on a $21 million payment to an escrow account for AECOM, which was overseeing construction work at the facility.
- Oct. 28, 2016: Faraday confirms that a half-dozen high-level employees have left the company, including a finance director and head of public relations.
- November 18, 2016: Faraday confirms a “temporary work stop” at the construction site, with plans to restart construction in early 2017.
- Dec. 2, 2016: Treasurer Dan Schwartz questions Faraday’s viability, calling on the governor and North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee to “end the charade. And, make sure they hold a seat for you on the lifeboats.” Lee fired back, calling Schwartz’s remarks “absurd statements from a political opportunist who continually demonstrates he has no understanding of the safeguards in the legislation that fully protect the state and taxpayers.”
- Dec. 23, 2016: Two other high-level executives who had previously worked at Ferrari and Volkswagen leave Faraday.
- Jan. 5, 2017: Faraday unveils FF91, a more realistic concept car, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It has a clear roof, keyless entry powered by facial recognition technology and looks like a crossover SUV. In a blooper-worthy moment, the car did not immediately drive itself away to park on command.
- Jan. 13, 2017: A graphics company files a lawsuit against Faraday, saying it hasn’t paid $1.8 million owed for a presentation used to promoted the FF91.
- Jan. 20, 2017: The Governor’s Office of Economic Development describes proposed legislation that will make a tax incentive deal more conservative in the event Faraday doesn’t succeed at Apex. The restructured deal spreads out the burden of paying back bonds for infrastructure across a larger number of property owners in the area.
- Jan. 27, 2017: North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee highlights the electric car manufacturer in his state of the city address, telling reporters that he wasn’t the “least bit concerned” about the company’s future. “I can tell you right now: This will be built,” he said.
- Jan. 31, 2017: Nevada Department of Transportation representatives tell lawmakers they still wants road improvements near the Apex site in North Las Vegas, even if Faraday Future’s factory doesn’t materialize.
- March 6, 2017: Faraday announces it’s hired Stefan Krause, a former executive at BMW, Mini, Rolls Royce and Deutsche Bank, as its chief financial officer.
- July 4, 2017: A Shanghai court freezes $183 million in assets of Jia Yueting. The court also froze $2.3 billion in a LeEco unit listed on the Shenzhen stock exchange.
July 10, 2017: Faraday announces a decision to halt construction on its proposed major factory in North Las Vegas, saying it will seek out an existing building, likely in California or Nevada, where it can get going more quickly. Company executives say they’re still aiming to produce a car before the end of 2018.
Feature photo: Flanked by lawmakers, state leaders and company executives, Gov. Brian Sandoval signs a bill Dec. 19, 2015 to implement a tax incentive package to attract electric car startup Faraday Future to Nevada. Courtesy: Governor’s Office.