New US auto start-up linked to China billionaire

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A new billion-dollar electric car factory in Los Angeles is linked to Chinese internet entrepreneur Jia Yueting, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.

The electric carmaker Faraday Future has refused to name its owners and investors, telling local media only that it was planning to make “intelligent vehicles” rivaling those of Silicon Valley electric carmaker Tesla Motors.

Reporting by the Los Angeles Times uncovered links between the commpany’s management and that of companies owned by Jia, the billionaire founder and chief executive of entertainment company Leshi Internet Information and Technology Co, known as LeTV.

In October, Leshi said it had completed US testing of its first electric car, according to reports. The Times reported the Chinese company had formed partnerships with British carmaker Aston Martin and Atieva, a Silicon Valley start-up working on a new electric car.

A vendor working with Faraday in a Los Angeles suburb said that the company openly described itself as “China’s response to Tesla.”

Tesla has staked out a claim to the luxury end of the electric car market with its Model S sedan, launched in 2012, and forthcoming Model X sport-utility vehicle.

But it has struggled to produce cars quickly enough to meet demand, and has posted a net loss for 10 consecutive quarters.

Faraday’s management and engineering team include a number of former Tesla staffers, as well as designers and engineers from BMW and General Motors, and a manager from Tesla owner Elon Musk’s SpaceX space startup.

The new carmaker has released almost no details about its production plans, except to say its cars will be all its own.

“We are starting from a clean sheet of paper and, being 100 per cent electric, we won’t fit into any of the current categories of vehicles,” senior vice president Nick Sampson told the newspaper.

Faraday said it planned to sell its first US-manufactured car starting in 2017.

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