Chinese technology company LeEco just commenced construction of a $3 billion electric car factory. The facility could start churning out the company’s LeSee sedan in a few years, producing a staggering 400,000 vehicles by 2018. Roughly 90 percent of the futuristic factory’s work may be completed by robots.
LeEco, which currently makes products like televisions, was in trouble. In a November letter to staff, founder Jia Yueting said the company expanded too fast and was struggling, and then cut his own income down to 15 cents. But about two weeks after the letter, the company reported they’d raised $600 million from unidentified investors but proceeded to lay off around 60 Hong Kong employees anyway. Then LeEco received another $1.44 billion investment this past Wednesday, again from an unidentified investor, and broke ground on the factory the same day. It is unclear whether those employees will be re-instated, or of their jobs will be replaced by robots.
According to Car News China, LeEco hasn’t yet obtained a government license to produce their LeSee cars at the factory. The outlet even said there’s a “real possibility” the government will refuse LeEco a license, as the CEO isn’t currently popular in Beijing. However, according to the South China Morning Post, a mayor of a city close to the factory said the local government will support the project.
Should LeEco obtain permission, the factory is slated to produce the company’s first concept car, the LeSee. Zhang Hailiang, chief executive of LeEco’s car unit LeSupercar, said the factory will be automated completely, as robots do the bulk of the work. The electric vehicle would be equipped to operate autonomously. Fancy features include five in-car screens, smart seating, and the ability to recharge via magnetic charging stations.
LeEco said Earth’s topography inspired the LeSee’s design, with the interior influenced by geological and biological patterns. Vegan materials and neutral colors add to the vehicle’s natural feel. According to the company, the form and function of the car “address future needs of our society and showcase a symbiosis between human, machine, and nature.”
Images via LeEco