Faraday Future electric car startup has appointed a new CEO – none other than Carsten Breitfeld, co-founder of Byton and former project manager for the development of the BMW i8.
Breitfeld left the Chinese electric car startup in April and will now assume the position of global CEO at Faraday Future. Under intense pressure, Jia “YT” Yueting, the majority shareholder of Faraday Future, is stepping down from his position as CEO and will become Chief Product & User Officer (CPUO).
“I am thrilled to accept the role of CEO and look forward to powering FF to its next stage of success,” Breitfeld said in the announcement. “One of the main reasons I joined FF was YT and his vision for how the mobility eco-system will transform the industry.” Breitfeld has apparently known Yueting for several years and has spoken to him repeatedly about joining the company in the past. “I appreciate his entrepreneurial spirit and admire his vision of successfully predicting the future mobility ecosystem.”
Whether Yeuting can successfully predict the future mobility ecosystem remains to be seen, but be that as it may, chances are Yeuting is better at that than sound financial leadership – the negative headlines have been amassing for months with FF in dire financial straits. Already in 2017, several investors said that they would only invest in FF if Yeuting stepped away from the company. He did not, and the company’s financial problems got worse. This year at least 11 companies are individually suing Faraday Future for a total of more than $80 million worth of unpaid bills. Now Yueting is finally stepping down as CEO and has set up a trust fund to pay off both his personal debts and the company’s debts. The trust fund is to be financed with Yeuting’s shares in Faraday Future.
The history of the start-up has been rocky. With public appearances at the CES in Las Vegas, live demonstrations of the acceleration of the FF 91 and big announcements in Tesla’s direction, Faraday Future was considered a serious potential competitor for the Californian electric pioneer. After the departure of several high-ranking managers, the break with his main financier Evergrande and the sale of the Los Angeles headquarters, Faraday Future had lost a lot of confidence among investors. At the end of last year, some FF employees had even started a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for the families of their dismissed colleagues.
It remains to be seen how much time the investors will give Breitfeld to turn the tide again. In the Faraday Future press release about the choice of a new boss, Breitfeld has not yet indicated any measures he intends to take but is rather full of praise for his new employer. The former BMW developer said he was extremely impressed by the steady progress the company had made on its flagship FF 91, saying that “It was when I saw the product, the innovative technology and the many dedicated employees that make up FF that it was clear to me that FF is setting a new standard for intelligent mobility and that I needed to be a part of it.”
As CPUO Yueting will oversee the AI, product definition, user experience and overall implementation of the Internet ecosystem model and will, therefore, be working closely with Breitfeld. Breitfeld says “I relish the opportunity to partner with YT, expand upon the vision and forward-thinking that YT started.” For his part, Yeuting says “It was an incredible honour and an amazing journey to serve as CEO of FF,” said Yueting. “With Dr. Breitfeld as CEO, FF’s future is brighter than ever”.
In addition, FF also wants to hire a Global Chairman, saying that this is crucial for the recent reorganisation of his top management team. Faraday Future has not yet released any further details on this front.