Faraday Future’s chief designer resigns, as some employees stop showing up to work

Friday, 01 December 2017, 10:50:13 PM. Richard Kim, who shaped the BMW i3 and i8, is the latest executive to leave

Trouble continues to mount for electric car startup Faraday Future: Richard Kim, the VP of design and the man behind the look of the company’s flagship car, the FF91, has resigned. Kim tendered his resignation on Tuesday, and his last day with the company is today, according to two people with direct knowledge of the situation.

"Richard gave his heart and soul to that company, and he tried to make it work. He’s been considering leaving for 2 to 3 months,” one of these former employees says. Representatives for Faraday Future could not immediately be reached for comment.

Kim was one of the more highly touted hires in the early days of Faraday Future. He spent more than a decade as a designer at BMW, where he was in charge of shaping the i3 and i8 models.

Faraday Future FF 91 press images

The FF91, designed by Richard Kim. Photo: Faraday Future

Kim was also one of five “founding executives” at Faraday Future — the first core group brought onto lead the company. With his departure, three of those five have now left the company in the last four months. Alan Cherry, formerly of Tesla, left his post as head of HR in August. Another Tesla vet, Tom Wessner — who led Faraday Future’s supply chain group — resigned in October. Nick Sampson (R&D) and Dag Reckhorn (manufacturing) are still with the company.

Faraday Future debuted the Kim-designed FF91 at CES at the start of this year. But the company has struggled financially in the months that followed. The flow of money to the company from its main investor Jia Yueting, who goes by YT, slowed at the turn of the year as he faced increased turmoil among his other companies in China. In July, Faraday Future ditched its long-standing plans for a $1 billion factory in the Nevada desert just one week after YT had almost $200 million of his assets frozen by a Chinese court.

Kim is out just weeks after a big spat between the company’s former CFO and its main shareholder

The news of Kim’s departure comes just three weeks after the resignations of Stefan Krause, the company’s CFO, and Ulrich Kranz, the CTO. Krause and Kranz, who also each spent time at BMW, had been brought in earlier in the year to help save the struggling manufacturer. Krause, especially, had been working on developing new investment sources for the company, and was also exploring the possibility of making a deal with another automotive OEM. That included at least one discussion about selling parts of Faraday Future’s business to Indian manufacturer Mahindra & Mahindra, The Verge learned last month. It also involved preparing the company for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Krause and Kranz tendered their resignations in October after constant clashes with YT, who, according to multiple sources, has been controlling the company in the continued absence of a publicly named CEO. Hours after news of their departure broke in November, YT sent out an email to the Faraday Future staff accusing Krause of “wrong doings” and causing “damage to the company.” Faraday Future also released a public statement that day which claimed the company was “taking legal actions as a result of Stefan Krause's malfeasance and dereliction of duty.”

Kim ran into similar struggles in his final months at Faraday Future, according to the two people who spoke to The Verge. They say he offered to stay on as long as the company thinned out its efforts and focused on keep only a core group of people necessary to launch the FF91. An agreement apparently could not be reached.

Krause’s departure has been described by a number of former employees and people close to the company as a turning point. Faraday Future is also having trouble keeping some of its remaining employees coming into the office.

The Verge has obtained an email dated November 20th that was sent to Faraday Future’s marketing, sales, go to market, and service teams, where Allan Lu — the company’s new head of go-to-market operations — scolded employees over not showing up. He wrote that “only 2 people were in office” when Jia Yueting, the main financial backer and shareholder of Faraday Future, arrived that morning to meet a group of potential investors.

“I would like to make it clear that we will be on time to the work starting from 9:00 am every day and closing of business by 6:00 pm ,unless you have your managers [sic] pre-approval for late come or early leave,” the email reads. Lu writes that the company is “very close obtaining investment,” and encouraged employees “WE MUST go back to our “fight mode IMMEDIATELY!”

Additional reporting by Tamara Warren


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