Faraday Future Eyes Michigan for Self-Driving Car Tests

June 6, 2016, 8:46 PM UTC
2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas
A Faraday Future FFzero1 concept car is seen at the 2016 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, 06 January 2016. Photo by: Jason Ogulnik/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
Jason Ogulnik — picture-alliance/dpa/AP

Faraday Future, the electric vehicle startup that wants to take on Tesla, reportedly plans to test autonomous vehicle technology on public roads in Michigan.

The company has applied for three manufacturer license plates through the Michigan Department of Transportation to test self-driving vehicles in the state, the Detroit News reported. To test self-driving cars in Michigan, a company must first apply for a manufacturer plate, show proof of state insurance, and pay a registration fee.

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Faraday Future did not immediately return a request for comment.

The applications are another sign of Faraday Future’s aggressive expansion plans, although it still isn’t entirely clear what it will build or how it will make money. The company, which is backed by Chinese billionaire Jia Yueting, the owner of online entertainment company Leshi Internet Information & Technology, emerged from the shadows in January when it unveiled its FFZero1, a futuristic, single-seat electric vehicle concept car at CES, the annual consumer electronics industry trade show.

Since then, Faraday Future has started construction on a 3 million square-foot factory in Nevada with the help of $215 million in tax incentives. The company is now negotiating with the Vallejo, Calif., near San Francisco, about plans to build an assembly plant and “customer experience center” in the city.

Check out this electric concept car:

The expansion to Michigan might seem premature—especially since the company has yet to produce a car. The state has become a hotbed of autonomous vehicle testing. A 23 acre mini-city called MCity opened in July 2015 at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor for researchers to test driverless car technology and figure out how it would work in the real world. Toyota announced in April that it would put 5,000 connected cars that can wirelessly communicate with other vehicles and infrastructure onto the streets of Ann Arbor in a real-world experiment designed to move autonomous driving closer to reality.

Big automakers like GM and Ford as well as startups such as NuTonomy, the autonomous vehicle software MIT spinoff that raised $16 million in funding round last month, is also testing in Ann Arbor.

Faraday Future, which doesn’t have the same infrastructure in place as the big established automakers, likely needs a test facility and access to the hundreds of suppliers located in the state, not to mention a deep pool of skilled engineers and others with automotive expertise.

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