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Tesla’s close competitor emerges

LAS VEGAS – The LeTV Super Car or LeSEE, the first concept car made by LeEco, will be unveiled at the upcoming Beijing International Automotive Exhibition (Auto China 2016) on April 25.

A quick overview of LeEco’s steady milestones in developing the LeSEE based on the ecology chain of different business operations may alleviate the suspicions by many over the arrival of a real Super Car. SEEing is believing.

To LeEco, the automotive ecology system involves four key areas: electrification, intelligent driving, connectedness and social service. The alliance with, a rising online car hailing/ride sharing platform, was LeEco’s first step to enter the social service area. Providing the latest Internet of the Vehicle (IOV) to Aston Martin’s Rapide S infotainment system involves intelligent driving and connectivity. And its joint development with Aston Martin of the RapidE super EV is an important step in LeEco’s vehicle electrification.

Now, LeEco’s all-round partner, Faraday Future (FF), is under the spotlight. A startup company with Silicon Valley background, FF celebrated its ground-breaking of a new plant in Apex Industrial Park, North Las Vegas on April 13.

Tom Wessner, vice president of global supply chain, announced at the ceremony that 90 percent of FF’s parts and components will come from global suppliers in North America, Europe and Asia. 

Nevada governor Brian Sandoval praised FF for its $1 billion investment in the plant and the creation of 4,500 jobs. He promised that the state plans to build a number of charging stations in the 520 km-long expressway stretching from Las Vegas to Reno to ensure convenient charging for EV drivers. Nevada does not want to be left behind neighboring California in vehicle electrification and the use of recyclable clean energy.

Currently Nevada relies heavily on industries such as lottery, entertainment and exhibition. It is crucial for the state to generate more job opportunities and revenues from manufacturing industries. With low land cost and fast transportation links, Nevada has won the race in securing FF’s new plant in North Las Vegas.

For FF, the location is ideal. It is just half an hour’s drive from Las Vegas. Apex Industrial Park will be powered by solar energy and roofs of workshops under construction will be equipped with solar panels.

Cars ready to be made in the plant are smart connected EVs. The new plant is also environment friendly. Compared with the old Fremont factory facilities Tesla acquired from Toyota and GM, the FF plant will be smart and connected among staff, equipment, logistics, supply chain and sales and distribution. The customer can see clearly how his/her customized car is being made via the Internet or be invited to visit the plant. This is quite a similar idea with a transparent kitchen where the customer can see the process of dish preparation and cooking.

Test driving will be available for visitors. The plant will be made into a “scenic spot,” offering cool auto technologies and cultural shows to visitors, thus becoming an alternative entertainment for 40 million tourists visiting Las Vegas annually.

All these innovations are quite different from traditional auto manufacturing.

Nick Sampson, FF’s senior vice president for R&D, told China Automotive Review that the first EV is positioned as a premium car and will be powered by a battery pack similar to Tesla’s. Later FF will switch to a new type of batteries.

As FF’s all-round strategic partner and investor, LeEco will target its Super Car market far beyond China. Cooperation and expertise sharing between the two partners can help FF develop a series of LeSEEs or Super Cars with a premium market position.

Tesla has proved itself a strong player to the “old world” of car industry. On the new path of vehicle electrification, Tesla may not take the lead all the time. There will be more players joining the race, such as FF and LeEco.

(Rewritten by Eddie Zhang based on author’s article)

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