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Tesla Rival Faraday Wants to Build Electric Cars in Vallejo

May 31, 2016, 4:11 PM UTC
Photographers take pictures of the Faraday Future FFZERO1 electric concept car after an unveiling at a news conference in Las Vegas
Photographers take pictures of the Faraday Future FFZERO1 electric concept car after an unveiling at a news conference in Las Vegas, Nevada January 4, 2016. REUTERS/Steve Marcus - RTX211V3
Photograph by Steve Marcus — Reuters

On Tuesday night, city council members in the northern California city of Vallejo will meet to decide if electric car startup Faraday Future will be able to build a factory there to assemble cars and communicate with customers.

Faraday Future—which is based in California, backed by Chinese-investors and is building a factory in Nevada—appears to be closely following in the footsteps of potential rival Tesla Motors (TSLA). Tesla is headquartered in the northern California city of Palo Alto, builds its cars in Fremont, and is building a battery factory outside of Reno, Nevada.

Updated: The Vallejo City Council unanimously approved a move to exclusively negotiate with Faraday Future for a six month period over the land in Vallejo. If the city and the company come to an agreement, the City Council will vote on that deal.

At this point, Faraday Future is big on promise, but it’s too early to tell if the company will be able to follow through on its ambitious plans. The startup, which is connected to Chinese online video company LeTV, only emerged late last year. The firm could end up being more similar to Fisker Automotive—a heavily-funded electric car startup that crashed and burned—than Tesla.

The site of a proposed assembly plant and customer experience center for electric car startup Faraday Future.City of Vallejo
City of Vallejo

Faraday broke ground on a planned three million square-foot factory in Nevada last month. The company says it will spend $1 billion building the Nevada factory and hire 4,500 employees over a 10-year period. Nevada has offered the company $215 million in tax incentives to locate the facility within the state in North Las Vegas.

Faraday’s headquarters are in Los Angeles, and the company says it employs 700 people.

In Vallejo, just north of San Francisco, Faraday plans to assemble its electric cars and build a “customer experience center,” presumably to show off electric vehicle tech, similar to how Tesla teaches potential customers about electric car technology at its stores.

For more on Faraday Future’s car concept, watch:

The spot of land in Vallejo that Faraday is interested in is called North Mare Island, a 150-acre mostly controlled by the city on the waterfront. The city has been working on revitalizing the area for years after the Navy closed a major base at the site in 1996.

The land needs considerable investment to be used for industrial purposes. According to the Vallejo city council’s proposal, North Mare Island has “negative land value.” Faraday would take the land in its current condition, and the city would contribute the site at no cost. Investment in the site would cost at least $50 million to get it ready to build a facility.

The Vallejo city council says optimistically, “Job creation could be substantial, and Faraday Future has the potential to become the largest employer in Vallejo at buildout.”

It’s unclear exactly what Faraday plans to build in its Nevada factory and assemble in the Bay Area facility. The company has been light on specifics of its planned electric vehicles and only showed off a vague concept car to doubtful press at the annual tech conference CES in Las Vegas in January.

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Faraday’s choice of Vallejo further solidifies California’s spot as the center of the world of electric cars.

In addition to Tesla operating in the state, Karma (the former Fisker) is also building cars in California. Japanese car giant Nissan, which sells the electric Nissan LEAF, has a research center in Silicon Valley. An electric car company called NextEV, backed by Chinese investors, also has a new 85,000-square-foot research and development center in San Jose.