Elon Musk wants other companies to build “compelling” electric cars. Is he about to get his wish? Yesterday, LeEco — the Chinese electric car start-up owned by billionaire Jia Yueting — held a splashy unveiling for its LeSEE sedan concept car in San Francisco. What actually happened is that Yeuting came sprinting down the runway all alone. The car was available for viewing later. According to Yeuting, the car was late arriving from London, where it was being filmed for an appearance in the next Transformers movie. (There are now as many Transformer movies as there are Fast & Furious sequels, or so it seems.)
In any event, the event moved forward with the introduction of new phones and televisions manufactured by LeEco as well an announcement about a new entertainment production enterprise. Yeuting and others are focused on the dilemma of how to keep people amused once cars start driving themselves. Apparently they plan to make piles of profits by selling us content to watch while we glide along with nothing to do. Apparently spotting white horses or out of state license plates are no longer adequate for the needs of terminally hip motorists. Conversation is also now passé, or so it would seem.
Lei Ding, the co-founder and global vice chairman of the LeEco SEE plan, told the audience that the LeSEE will come with its own magnetic charging system, not the standard J1772 charger. That’s probably why executives from QualComm were on hand. Ding also said a foldaway steering wheel will be standard as well as external lights that change color to communicate with other drivers and pedestrians.
LeEco executives said they see the car as part of a shared ownership system. It could also benefit from a strategic partnership with Faraday Future, yet another electric car start-up controlled by Jia. Faraday announced yesterday that its first production car prototype will appear at the CES 2017 show in January. Let’s hope it is not as ridiculous as the FFZero1 superduper car unveiled at last year’s show.
LeEco is supposedly building a $1.8 billion factory in China. Faraday is supposedly building a $1 billion factory in Nevada. We won’t know what the Faraday Future production car will actually look like or what the linkage between Faraday and LeEco will ultimately be until some time in the future.