FF91 image via Faraday Future
Written by David Castellon
Faraday Future, the all-electric car startup looking to launch its first manufacturing plant in Hanford, has a new CEO.
The Glendale-based company announced this week that auto industry veteran Carsten Breitfeld is the new global CEO, replacing FF’s founder and, initially, its sole investor, Chinese billionaire YT Jia, who has stepped down from the top spot.
A press release from FF describes Breitfeld as a “world-renowned expert in electric mobility. He has a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of Hannover [Germany] and, as a part of his 20-year career at BMW, he led BMW’s i8 vehicle program as group vice president. This program delivered the revolutionary i8 luxury plug-in hybrid to global markets.
“He is also a stellar entrepreneur who co-founded and served as chairman and CEO of BYTON,” it continues, referring to the Chinese electric car startup with an eye toward selling its sports-utility vehicles in the U.S.
“With his deep industry expertise, Dr. Breitfeld will lead FF in developing industry-leading forward-looking technology and products, enhancing organizational efficiencies and competencies, as well as accelerating ongoing fundraising activities.”
Though it has yet to start mass producing cars, FF has had an erratic history of executives departing, a major hiring spree followed by layoffs of most of its line employees and financial woes.
Jia himself has had his own problems amid news reports that he overextended himself in his business ventures and was in debt billions of dollars.
Those problems reportedly prompted Jia to scrap early plans to build a massive manufacturing plant from the ground up in Nevada and instead renovate a smaller, million-square-foot former tire plant in south Hanford to launch mass production there.
“One of the main reasons I joined FF was YT and his vision for how the mobility eco-system will transform the industry and FF’s industry-leading products and technology, as well as their recently-implemented global partnership program,’’ Breitfeld said in the press release.
Jia also offers a statement in which he said, “I am extremely proud of our dedicated team and the many accomplishments we continue to achieve in our goal to transform and disrupt the automotive landscape. I envisioned a vehicle that will truly redefine transportation, mobility and connectivity, creating a true ‘new species’ of vehicle that integrates the ‘third internet living space’ with our ‘smart driving platform.’
“With Dr. Breitfeld as CEO, the future of FF is brighter than ever. And I am confident that we, along with our senior management team, will enable FF to make a reality the original vision of a shared smart mobility ecosystem.”
The new CEO announcement didn’t include any updates on progress to attract investors or whether FF leaders have any idea of when they might rehire workers and start car production in Hanford.