Faraday Future cancels California plant as it struggles to finish first factory

Faraday Future FF 91
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

Despite unveiling its FF 91 electric car at CES 2017 after a year of teases, the future doesn’t look too bright for Faraday Future.

The Chinese-backed startup has struggled to get construction of its Nevada factory underway, and is now reportedly canceling plans for a second factory in California. Faraday entered into negotiations with officials in Vallejo last year over a site in the former Mare Island naval shipyard. But the company did not exercise an option to buy the 157-acre property.

In a statement released to TechCrunch, Faraday said it had ended its exclusive negotiating rights with the city of Vallejo, but that it would “stay in contact with the city, and remains interested in acquiring land on North Mare Island in the future.” Faraday originally planned to build both a factory and “experience center” at the site, and said its own studies indicated the former shipyard would be adequate for both facilities. It did not say why it opted out of buying the land at this time.

Not that the company doesn’t have other issues to focus on. Faraday broke ground on its factory site in North Las Vegas, Nevada, in April of last year, but little work at the site has been completed since then. Construction ground to a halt last fall amid a dispute between Faraday and its lead contractor over payments. In its statement on the Mare Island site, Faraday said it “plans to restart construction at the North Las Vegas site very soon.”

Faraday’s financial health is largely dependent on Chinese billionaire Jia Yueting and his LeEco tech company. But Jia admitted late last year that this company’s numerous recent expansions had depleted cash reserves. Faraday said in February that it remains committed to investing $1 billion in the Nevada factory, but the company may have to downsize in light of LeEco’s cash issues.

The automaker will scale down its Nevada factory from 3 million square feet to 650,000 square feet, North Las Vegas city manager Qiong Liu told Reuters in February. Given how far the factory is from completion, it’s also unclear exactly when production of the FF 91 will start. At CES 2016, Faraday said it would start building cars within two years, meaning by January 2018. That seems unlikely now.