Jia Yueting (left), founder and CEO of LeEco, shakes hands with Nick Sampson, vice-president of Faraday Future, at the launch ceremony of the FF 91, an internet-enabled electric car, in Las Vegas, on Jan 3, 2017. [Photo provided to China Daily]
US-based electric car startup Faraday Future, backed by LeEco, unveiled its first production vehicle FF 91 in Las Vegas at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show, a move to drum up more investment and extricate LeEco from cash flow woes.
The debut of the FF 91 is seen as the last chance for Jia Yueting, CEO and founder of LeEco, and his debt-laden company, said analysts.
The FF 91 represents a bold new breed of electric mobility, which features artificial intelligence, record-breaking acceleration speeds and long-lasting battery energy.
With 1,050 horsepower, the vehicle can go from zero to 96 kilometers per hour in 2.39 seconds, making it one of the fastest accelerating cars in the world, according to the company.
It can go more than 700 kilometers on one charge. "No other electric vehicle can do that," said Peter Savagian, vice-president of propulsion engineering at FF.
The car possesses a complex sensor system and driverless valet feature. By pressing a button on the Faraday mobile app, the car will park itself. It could also learn user's preferences over time to create a personalized experience.
"Our mission is not just to build an electric vehicle, but a globally shared internet mobility ecosystem," Jia said.
Jia added FF has broken the technological boundaries of internet, artificial intelligence, IT, automobile and electric systems, redefining the core value of car.
The car can be ordered by paying a $5,000 deposit through Faraday's website. The first batch is scheduled to be delivered next year.
Although LeEco has faced many challenges, such as supply chain management and capital issues, Jia is still pushing ahead with the electric vehicle initiative.
Leshi Internet Information and Technology Corp, LeEco's listed arm, said last week LeEco will obtain more than 10 billion yuan ($1.4 billion) financing from strategic investors.
"The debut of FF 91 at the CES shows Jia's determination to build an electric car and restore investor's confidence. However, the prospect of mass-production of the e-car in 2018 will remain slightly out of reach," said Shen Meng, director of Chanson & Co, a boutique investment bank in China.
Shen expressed concerns that the event was merely a continuation of LeEco's flamboyant marketing methods, which will do little to save the firm from its biggest problem, its acute cash crunch, against a backdrop of sluggish global economic growth.
Lu Zhenwang, CEO of the Shanghai-based Wanqing Consultancy, cast serious doubt on LeEco's ability to mass-produce the FF 91 by next year.
"The launch ceremony was an attempt to gain more support from investors, but where are LeEco's detailed plans, such as the establishment of charging facilities and where it will make these cars," Lu said.
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