Faraday Future announced last week that it hired Byton co-founder Carsten Breitfeld as its global CEO, replacing the company’s controversial founder, Jia Yueting.
Jia ran into conflict with investors after a separate e-commerce company he owned in China, LeEco, allegedly defaulted on debts and failed to return to China to pay them when the government ordered him to do so. LeEco also aimed to build electric cars.
Last year Faraday lined up a new investment from Hong Kong conglomerate Evergrande to set up a factory and build several prototypes in California, But when Evergrande wouldn't provide a next payment, it had to lay off much of its staff and shutter the factory. All of its founding executives except Jia left.
Since then, the company has been working to secure more investors to restart production. As a condition of their investment, most new investors have reportedly insisted on Jia’s departure.
Faraday Future FF91 prototype
In its latest announcement, Faraday Future says Jia is not leaving the company, but is stepping down as CEO to become Faraday’s Chief Product and User Officer, a role perhaps similar to that Bill Gates took on after stepping down as Microsoft’s CEO.
He will be replaced as global CEO by Breitfeld, a mechanical engineer credited with leading the development of the BMW i8 and who more recently served as co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Chinese electric carmaker Byton.
Under its new lead investor, Chinese gaming company The9, Faraday Future is contracted to develop a new cheaper electric vehicle for the Chinese market.
It will also resume work on the Faraday Future FF91, a model that is likely to be significantly more expensive than the Tesla Model X. The car is expected to be built at a former Pirelli tire factory in Hanford, California.