Faraday hires former BMW exec as global CEO in restructuring

 

September 03, 2019 01:55 PM
ALEXA ST. JOHN  

Faraday Future has chosen industry veteran Carsten Breitfeld as its new global CEO to bolster the long cash-strapped startup in its efforts to secure funding and develop products.

Breitfeld assumes leadership of the California mobility company as it begins production of the ultraluxury FF 91 electric vehicle and will manage the final development of the FF 81 mass-market EV.

The announcement Tuesday comes just days after news of Faraday’s restructuring plan, which the company said began late last year.

Chinese entrepreneur Jia Yueting has stepped down as CEO to assume the role of chief product & user officer. Yueting founded Faraday Future in May 2014.

Breitfeld holds a doctorate in mechanical engineering from the University of Hannover in Germany.

He spent 20 years at BMW, where he led the i8 vehicle program as group vice president. He also led engineering divisions for BMW within chassis development, powertrain development and corporate strategy.

Before joining Faraday Future, Breitfeld co-founded and was chairman and CEO of Chinese EV maker Byton. He also had a brief stint as CEO of Iconiq Motors this year.

“YT and I have known each other for a number of years and have discussed me joining the company in the past,” Breitfeld said in a statement. “I have been extremely impressed with the steady progress the company has made on the flagship FF 91.”

Faraday Future, which has ambitions to compete against Tesla Inc., said in a statement Tuesday that Breitfeld “will lead FF in developing industry-leading, forward-looking technology and products, enhancing organizational efficiencies and competencies, as well as accelerating ongoing fund-raising activities.”

Yueting will oversee artificial intelligence, product definition, user experience and the overall implementation of the Internet ecosystem model, according to the company. Yueting is establishing a debt repayment trust to repay his remaining guarantor debts to Faraday Future, according to the company.

“We are hopeful that our current and future employees will see the many benefits of our change of governance structure,” the company said in a statement last week regarding the restructuring.

The startup’s growth has been at a standstill amid changes in leadership and financial struggles.

Faraday Future was involved in a legal dispute over funding with its main investor, Evergrande Health Industry Group, the health care subsidiary of China’s second-largest property developer, China Evergrande Group. The dispute was settled in 2018, but it stalled Faraday Future’s efforts to produce the FF 91.

The company was originally set to begin deliveries in the first half of 2019. Faraday aims to start production of the 1,050-hp FF 91 in Hanford, Calif., next year and follow that with its mass-market offering, the FF 81, in 2021, Bloomberg reported.

The resignations of Nick Sampson, one of the startup’s three co-founders, and Peter Savagian, senior vice president of technology and product development, came last year amid reports of financial woes that Sampson said were making the company “effectively insolvent.”

The startup has been working to secure funding as of this year. The9, a Shanghai online game developer and operator, and Faraday Future signed a deal in which The9 Ltd. agreed to invest up to $600 million in a partnership that will produce EVs to sell in China, Faraday Future said.

With the agreement, the startup will make contributions including its usage rights on a piece of land in China for electric car manufacturing. The startup said it also is seeking a global chairman.

Bloomberg contributed to this report.

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