The reports were true: Faraday Future is changing CEOs. The automotive startup's CEO Jia Yueting has stepped down and will be replaced by Dr. Carsten Breitfeld (above), the former head of BMW's i8 development program and the co-founder of rival EV maker Byton. The choice isn't entirely coming out of the blue, according to Breitfeld. He has apparently known Yueting for "a number of years" and even talked about the possibility of joining the company in the past. Yueting's "vision for how the mobility eco-system will transform the industry" played a significant role in the decision to join, Breitfeld said.
Yueting isn't leaving the company. Instead, he's taking on the role of Chief Product and User Officer. He'll handle product definition, user experience, AI and the "overall implementation of the internet eco-system model." To put it simply, he'll focus on nuts-and-bolts development instead of running the company.
The shuffle comes as part of a restructuring plan that will see Yueting create a trust to pay off his debts "as quickly as he can." Faraday didn't elaborate on how Yueting would repay the debt, but an earlier Pandaily report suggested the executive would both sell shares and count on a future IPO to muster enough funds. The company is simultaneously recruiting someone as a Global Chairman for the company.
Faraday isn't completely ditching Yueting, but it clearly sees a new CEO as vital to getting back on track and regaining the trust of investors who've had to bail out the company more than once. Breitfeld is a veteran of the automotive industry with experience bringing electrified cars to market -- important for a company that has yet to release its first car more than two years after the CES debut. There's no certainty that he'll fare better than Yueting, but he won't make Faraday's backers as nervous as his predecessor.
Update 9/3 10:37AM ET: The initial photo for the story misidentified Breitfeld; we've replaced it with an accurate picture.