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Faraday Future is NOT coming to North Las Vegas.
Regular listeners are no doubt thinking, “Didn’t this already happen?” The rumors have abounded since December, but finally, the company announced that it will be abandoning its burgeoning factory at the Apex Industrial Park.
The decision seems to have come after a move by the Chinese government to freeze the assets of Faraday’s main – some say sole – investor. The government said that Jia Yueting has missed payments to various Chinese banks on a total debt of $183 million.
A statement from Faraday said that their futuristic cars will still be in production… somewhere else. It didn’t say where that somewhere else is.
And a statement from North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee says that Faraday has done enough to jumpstart Apex, even as they decide to not build a full-scale plant.
"The State, County and City are focused to ensure Southern Nevada has a large-scale industrial park developed and ready for job creators to diversify our regional economy, and Faraday has played an important part by investing almost $50 million in land improvements and critical design and engineering work at Apex Industrial Park, creating a momentum that has attracted multiple Fortune 500 companies hiring 7,000 Nevadans and investing more than $1 billion that has stabilized and transformed our community."
State Treasurer Dan Schwartz saw this coming a year and a half ago when the Legislature called a special session to make the Faraday deal.
"Jia never had the money. He didn't have the experience. He kept making these announcements and promises none of which he could keep," he said. "We were concerned from day one that this was not a company that the state of Nevada should have been supporting," he said.
According to Schwartz, the freezing of Jia's assets was just one of many things that caused trouble for the company.
Andrew Hawkins writes for The Verge magazine. He agrees that many factors led to the collapse of the North Las Vegas deal. Hawkins said Jia and his company unveiled a number of projects and products in a presentation in Silicon Valley but most of those efforts are still on the drawing board.
"They have a phone and they have a few television products that they put out, but it seems like the majority of what they're doing right now is tied up in these cash problems that they're having," Hawkins said.
Hawkins also believes Jia and his company had spread themselves and their money too thin. Besides the project in North Las Vegas, they were also heavily invested in two other electric car companies in California. A State of Nevada interview from December of 2016 delves into the other companies, and why Jia had different companies competing against each other.
Schwartz had harsher criticism of Jia and Faraday Future.
"I think the governor got taken, Steve Hill got taken, the Nevada Legislature got taken," he said. Schwartz also doesn't believe anyone will want to buy the land at Apex currently owned by Faraday Future.
"It's basically a lot of sand and desert," he said.
Despite the cynicism, Schwartz said he planned to talk to North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee about what he has planned now that the Faraday deal has fallen through. He is confident that the mayor has a plan B.
As for the future of Faraday Future, in its statement Monday about pulling out of North Las Vegas it said it would look for a factory that is already built in Nevada or California to begin manufacturing its cars.
Hawkins is skeptical of that. He said during a presentation at the company's headquarters in Los Angeles late last year he didn't get a good sense of what the company's plan was going forward.
"It was not a very clearly articulated vision. It seemed to bounce all over the place," he said, "They were sort of grasping at these futuristic concepts without being able to ground that in sense of reality."
Dan Schwartz, Treasurer, State of Nevada; Andrew Hawkins, writer, The Verge