After threatening stoppage over pay last month, US engineering giant Aecom has now halted construction work on the $1bn electric car factory it was building for Chinese firm Faraday Futures in Las Vegas.
"At this time, Faraday Future is temporarily adjusting their construction schedule with plans to resume in early 2017. We remain fully committed to our client and our employees working on this project, and we look forward to the facility’s successful delivery," Aecom said in a statement to automotive news site Jalopnik.
The 3-million-square-foot, 900-acre development broke ground in April this year, but last month Aecom threatened to halt work over unpaid invoices.
Robert Gay, a vice president and project executive at Aecom, sent a letter to Faraday that referred to a $21m deposit that was due to be paid in September to cover material costs and subcontractors’ fees.
Aecom’s decision to stop work was seized on by Dan Schwartz, the Nevada state treasurer, who has been outspokenly sceptical about Faraday’s business case.
"This is a Ponzi scheme," he told Fortune on Tuesday. "You have a new company that has never built a car, building a new plant in the middle of the desert, financed by a mysterious Chinese billionaire. At some point, as with Bernie Madoff, the game ends."
Faraday’s main financial backer is billionaire Jia Yueting, a media mogul in China. Questions have been raised over the financial structure of Jia’s companies, and their vulnerability to a fall in their share prices.
Faraday unveiled its FFZERO1 concept car in Las Vegas earlier this year (FF)
Assuming the factory goes ahead, it will be built in North Las Vegas on a 3.6 square kilometre site. It will have a floor area of 280,000 square metres. Work began on preparing the site in April, and so far the grading and foundation work has been completed.
Top image: Faraday unveiled its FFZERO1 concept car in Las Vegas earlier this year (FF)
Second image: From left, Tom Wessner, VP of Global Supply Chain at Faraday Future, Ding Lei, Co-founder, Global Vice Chairman, SEE Plan at LeEco, Brian Sandoval, governor of Nevada and Dag Reckhorn, VP of Global Manufacturing at Faraday, at factory groundbreaking on 13 April 2016, North Las Vegas (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/AP Images for Faraday Future)