Faraday Future, the Chinese-backed, California-based electric-car maker, remains secretive about its plans to develop a record-breaking battery.
The company announced a supply agreement with Korea’s LG Chem earlier this month, saying the collaboration would result in “in the world’s highest energy density for a production automotive battery.”
The announcement is typical for Faraday -- lots of hype, but few specifics.
LG Chem declined to comment further on the news. And Rich Otto, corporate and lifestyle communications specialist at Faraday Future, also refused to provide further details on the partnership. “We cannot comment on the specifics of the contract with LG Chem,” he said.
“We cannot comment on suppliers prior to our announcement with LG Chem. We are not discussing specifics of the other suppliers considered for this contract. We are not disclosing information regarding LG's battery production at this time," continued Otto.
The only bits of information Otto disclosed were some that were already in the public domain, such as the fact that LG Chem’s cells will be incorporated into Faraday Future’s Variable Platform Architecture.
The VPA is supposed to be a modular engineering system optimized for electric vehicles, which Otto said would be “a fundamental component of Faraday Future’s upcoming vehicle portfolio.”
Otto also reiterated that Faraday Future is currently constructing its first manufacturing facility at the Apex Industrial Park in North Las Vegas, Nevada. The $1 billion facility will occupy 3 million square feet and create approximately 4,500 jobs over 10 years.
“Our first product will be a premium electric vehicle that offers extreme technology and industry-leading range, and will be available to customers in the next couple of years," said Otto, failing to provide any details to back up the company's claims.
Automotive watchers believe Faraday Future will unveil an electric sports utility vehicle at the end of next year, with production cars becoming available in 2018. Early versions of the car have reportedly been spotted around Los Angeles.
Getting a real car onto the road will be important if Faraday Future wants to be taken seriously. A slew of high-profile announcements this year has only fueled speculation that the company is mostly trading in hype.
The company emerged from stealth mode in January with the launch of its FFZero1 concept car at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
But observers quickly noted that the 1,000-horsepower FFZero1, with a 0 to 60 mph time of less than 3 seconds, was hardly a mass-market proposition. And it soon became apparent that the company’s much-trumpeted VPA was still in development.
Since then Faraday Future has become the title sponsor for the 2016 Long Beach ePrix racing event, broken ground for its Nevada factory, hired automotive branding heavyweight Marco Mattiacci, picked up an autonomous vehicle testing permit and hired 1,000 U.S. employees.
But Faraday has yet to provide a glimpse of what its real-life products will look like.
Nevada State Treasurer Dan Schwartz has questioned whether Faraday Future chief executive Jia Yueting, a Chinese internet billionaire, actually has the cash to bankroll the car company’s production facilities.
“Schwartz, the former CEO of a private-equity research firm in Hong Kong, wants more transparency on the funding before signing off on state bonds for $120 million of infrastructure improvements,” reported Bloomberg.
The financing question is even more pertinent since news emerged that Jia Yueting is in charge of three different electric-vehicle ventures.
The 43-year-old businessman is also funding development of the LeSee self-driving car and backing Atieva, a Silicon Valley startup aiming to take on Tesla. There is no indication that these three ventures will be sharing production facilities, human resources or know-how.
Even assuming Jia Yueting can count on support from a Chinese government keen to corner the global market for electric vehicles, it seems unlikely there will be enough cash for all three startups.