Faraday had to act. In October, the company took Evergrande to arbitration in Hong Kong over the promised $700 million. "The only reason 'FF is trying to get out of the deal with Evergrande,'" the company wrote on Twitter, "is because Evergrande has failed to live up to its end of the bargain and make the payments it agreed to make. This is a matter of basic, common-sense fairness. Evergrande shouldn't be permitted to withhold the funding and simultaneously prevent Faraday Future from accepting alternative financing or investments."
While the arbitrator mulled over the case, Faraday started laying off staff and reducing employee wages by 20 percent. As part of the measures, Yueting and other members of senior management reduced their annual salaries to a single dollar.
Later that month, the court in Hong Kong gave Faraday permission to seek "emergency relief" of up to $500 million while the case proceeded. The company called it a "decisive victory" in a statement posted to Twitter. "FF is, and will continue, to seek funding from investors around the world who share our vision," the EV maker wrote. "At the same time, the Company will work towards delivering a transformative product -- a 'New Species' FF 91 to its paid reservation holders in 2019."
It was a lifeline, but by this point many employees at both the top and bottom of the company had grown tired of the struggle. Peter Savagian, senior vice president of product and technology development at Faraday, reportedly left at the end of October. Nick Sampson, one of the company's three co-founders; Dag Reckhorn, senior vice president of global manufacturing; and Catherine Steinmetz, director of environmental, health, safety and training, followed shortly afterward, among others.
The exits weren't enough to put the company on solid ground. Faraday shut down some of its operations in California and placed many workers on unpaid leave, or a "furlough." Without new funding, it seemed unlikely that the cash-strapped startup would survive the year.
With few remaining options, a group of Faraday employees took Evergrande to court in Los Angeles. It claimed that the health subsidiary breached its financial duties and "plotted" to send the struggling EV manufacturer "off a financial cliff." Evergrande wrote in response: "The company and other parties will take all necessary actions to protect the company's and Season Smart's rights, and to protect the interests of the company and its shareholders."
At the tail end of November, the arbitrator in Hong Kong ruled against Faraday, keeping the company's assets and intellectual property under Evergrande's possession. "On November 29th, 2018, Season Smart [Evergrande] received the result of the emergency arbitration," Evergrande wrote in a statement. "The emergency arbitrator rejected in its entirety the Joint Venture's application to release Season Smart's security over [Faraday's] assets."
The arbitration case is still ongoing. Until a final decision is made, Faraday has to hunker down and find a way to survive. In the first week of December, it announced that more employees would be furloughed. The company also admitted that its funding issues wouldn't be solved for another two or three months. "We are grateful to all of the 1,000 global employees, especially hundreds of employees in the US who are willing to stay and continue to work on the FF 91 production and delivery, as well as those who will be on a temporary furlough," the company said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Yueting is under increasing pressure to solve the mounting debt problems that permeate so many of his businesses. One company, Taoyun Capital, has sued Yueting in the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ESCC). It's targeting his 33-percent stake in Faraday, which, if successful, would transfer even more power to Evergrande.
Faraday Future won headlines and the public's imagination with its dream of a truly luxurious electric car. But that vision has felt like a nightmare for some time. The year 2018, like 2017, has been hellish for the company, underscored by countless financial and legal battles. Unless it can wrestle control from Evergrande, it seems unlikely that the business will recover and deliver the FF 91, or any other car, in meaningful volumes.