Hanford’s hot new company, Faraday Future (FF) recently met a build milestone by producing its first pre-production vehicle, the 1000 horsepower ultra-luxury FF 91. As a celebration, the Hanford plant opened its doors to futurists and demonstrated their newest creation with friends and family. Despite a small fire that occurred within the car during the event, Faraday began a massive hiring effort and revved its engines for mass production.
The ambitious electric car company arrived in Hanford just in time to remedy a missed opportunity with pot grows. Faraday Future Director of Government Affairs and Plant Manager Stan Chapman made it clear they are here to stay. “The ultimate goal,” Chapman explained, “is to formulate firm roots here in Hanford.” With 13 years under his belt at Mercedes Benz, Chapman knows what makes a successful car company and he says it’s the people. Faraday has made it clear they intend to continue hiring locally.
To make sure its people are prepared, the Hanford plant partnered with College of the Sequoias to train employees on technical skills and soft skills such as communications, problem solving, and stress management. This curriculum involved personality assessments to help Faraday employees understand each other and work together.
There’s no doubt in Chapman’s eyes that they are hiring for success. “Every one of those people inside of that classroom, they really want to be there, and they come to work every day with a strong work ethic, that’s what’s gonna set us apart from the rest.”
When asked about seasoned competitor Tesla Inc., Chapman said he wished Tesla the “best of luck” and claimed Faraday had a vehicle no one had ever seen before and technology that will be innovative to the market. But his focus was not on one-upping competitors, it was on making the Hanford plant and its people the best possible. That meant rolling out the new model early next year. It’s unclear, however, if the plant will meet ETA.
According to a Faraday spokesperson, their largest investor, Evergrande, a Chinese investment company, refused to give an agreed payment of $500 million and attempted to prevent Faraday from receiving funds from other potential investors. Faraday responded by suing the investor.
“This is a matter of basic, common-sense fairness – Evergrande shouldn’t be permitted to withhold the funding and simultaneously prevent FF from accepting alternative financing or investments.”
Unfortunately, Faraday’s ambitious vision came at a high price. Evergrande was the largest shareholder, with 45% ownership of the company. Such a heavy hand put Faraday employees at the mercy of the investment company.
According to Technode, 60 Faraday Future employees in China never received their salaries. Some of the employees claimed that Evergrande was making drastic changes to their contracts, such as uprooting workers from their cities and only offering 50% of their original salary.
If these allegations are true, that may mean trouble for Faraday employees in Hanford. But Faraday did not give up on its vision and prioritized Faraday employees and their families. They plan to do this by pursuing other funding opportunities, finding solutions to protect everyone, and looking to their leadership.
The question is if Faraday leaders have what it takes. The original Las Vegas plant failed when funding sputtered to a halt and debt grew too burdensome. The Initial Chief Financial Officer and Chief Technology Officer abandoned ship, leaving Chinese billionaire Jia Yueting alone at the wheel. Jia managed to save the company once by landing Evergrande, but he also doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to keeping money flowing.
According to the South China Post, Jia left his original company in financial ruin and was placed on China’s official blacklist of defaulters in December of 2017. He was ordered by the Bejing Securities Regulatory Bureau to return home and “fulfill responsibility as a listed company’s controller, stabilize the firm’s situation, and protect the interests of shareholders.”
Say what you will about Faraday’s top gun, but a spokesperson claimed the company has remained unwavering despite running on fumes. “Jia and FF always prioritize the benefits of all our employees and their families globally. We will try to look for solutions and protect everyone’s interests. We are moving forward with our current team in Hanford and at our HQ here in LA as a company. Our goals and objectives have not changed in terms of personnel. We continue to hire those roles which the company has deemed crucial even in this time of uncertainty. The core projects in Hanford are still moving forward.”
Faraday’s future may be uncertain, but it wasn’t long ago that competitor Tesla was in a similar position. After years of struggle, delaying payments, and cutting costs, Tesla finally managed to make a huge profit of $312 million this quarter. According to an article by The New York Times, Chief Executive Elon Musk expected the company to net a profit “all quarters going forward” and was “no longer in startup mode”.
It’s safe to say Faraday Future is still in startup mode and has recently started cutting costs by announcing layoffs and salary reductions. According to an email obtained by The Verge, employee salaries will drop 20% and CEO Jia has reduced his salary to $1 a year.
In recent weeks as many as 60 employees were furloughed at the Hanford plant while some 40 were laid off.
A late October letter to employees stated that “FF is requiring most employees who have worked for the Company less than six months to take the months of November and December off without pay.”
Dag Reckhorn, the company’s senior vice president of manufacturing at the Hanford plant, “heartbrokenly” resigned.