It’s been a rough year for Faraday Future. Seemingly affected by financial troubles at main backer LeEco, the startup shelved plans for a $1 billion factory in North Las Vegas, Nevada, and is now trying to repurpose an old California tire factory instead. With a production launch for its FF 91 electric SUV nowhere in sight, more bad news may be on the way.
Faraday Future may cut its Formula E racing team to save money, reports The Verge, which cited anonymous sources close to the matter. Faraday joined Formula E last summer, in time for the start of the series’ third season, which just wrapped up. Instead of launching its own team, the automaker partnered with an existing team, Dragon Racing. So Faraday’s exit from Formula E would just involve ending a contract, not shuttering an entire racing department.
Keith Smout, Dragon Racing’s commercial director, told The Verge that it has a four-year contract with Faraday and that it’s in “good standing.” But he also said Dragon and Faraday are discussing the next season right now, adding in a followup that “where there is smoke there is fire.”
“There have been no business decisions made on whether to pull out,” a Faraday spokesperson said, adding that company engineers were already “on the ground” in Spain testing for the next season. Faraday views racing as an important avenue for technical development. In addition to Formula E, it took the FF 91 to the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb this year. Racing also provides Faraday with a high-profile way to promote itself.
But things aren’t going so well behind the scenes, according to The Verge. It reported that Faraday is behind on some payments to Dragon, echoing an issue the company has had with suppliers and contractors. Many of the executives who originally championed the Formula E program are now gone. That includes Nate Schroeder, Faraday’s head of motor sports, who left in July, according to his LinkedIn page.
This past season (which concluded last month), Faraday Future Dragon Racing finished eighth out of 10 in the team standings. Before Faraday came onboard, Dragon Racing finished second and fourth in Formula E’s first and second seasons, respectively. While this may not be directly related to the partnership with Faraday, it doesn’t exactly help the chances of that partnership continuing.
Even if Faraday does leave, Formula E will have no shortage of automakers. Jaguar, Renault, Mahindra, Venturi, NextEV, and Citroën’s DS sub-brand remain onboard, Audi and BMW plan to step up their commitments, and Mercedes-Benz and Porsche will join in future seasons.