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Carson City, Nev. • Chinese-backed electric carmaker Faraday Future plans to build a $1 billion manufacturing plant in North Las Vegas, according to a letter the company sent Nevada officials Wednesday.
The upstart, California-based automaker chose Nevada over three other states and after extensive negotiations with Nevada's economic development team. Its tentative agreement to build the factory is contingent upon the state authorizing major tax incentives.
The letter to Nevada officials, obtained by The Associated Press, is signed by Jia Yueting, a Chinese billionaire investor who styles himself after Apple's late Steve Jobs. Faraday hopes to bring a vehicle to market as early as 2017 but has yet to unveil a concept car.
Nevada officials scheduled a news conference in Las Vegas on Thursday that's expected to include a formal announcement of an agreement to bring the plant to North Las Vegas.
Tax incentives to seal the deal would need authorization from Nevada lawmakers, who approved a $1.3 billion incentive package in a special session last year to secure electric carmaker Tesla Motors' massive battery factory outside of Reno.
Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, who met with Faraday representatives in China this fall as part of a year of negotiations, would need to summon lawmakers to Carson City for a special session to finalize the agreement.
Faraday has offered few details on its product so far, but has spoken in broad terms about its vision to revolutionize transportation.
"People's lives are changed by their mobile devices, the way that we interact," Faraday spokeswoman Stacy Morris said last month. "The car industry hasn't caught up sufficiently. The car still feels like a place where you're disconnected."
One automotive industry analyst noted Wednesday that Faraday was starting behind Tesla and traditional auto makers that are already developing technology to provide vehicle Internet access and over-the-air updates to electronic controls.
"I'm not saying they can't succeed, but they're not going to be first," said Stephanie Brinley, senior analyst with IHS Automotive in Southfield, Mich.
Brinley said traditional companies are probably already considering what Faraday Future calls unique solutions.
"The challenge they'll have as a startup is that it's been done before, and they'll be coming to market late," she said.
The startup of about 500 employees has poached executive talent from electric carmaker Tesla and also draws its name from a luminary scientist Michael Faraday whose discoveries in the early 1800s laid the groundwork for the modern electric motor.
Nevada topped finalists California, Georgia and Louisiana in the race to land the factory.
The company expects the project will create 4,500 jobs, according to Steve Hill of the Nevada Governor's Office of Economic Development.
It would represent a boon for North Las Vegas, a city of about 220,000 residents that boomed as the nation's fastest-growing city in the early 2000s and nearly busted when the recession hit and pushed it close to insolvency.
It also comes as Nevada, the state hardest-hit by the housing crisis, attempts to diversify its casino-heavy economy by attracting high-tech companies.
In addition to clearing the way for Tesla, state officials have awarded hundreds of millions of dollars in incentives to encourage data centers to build and expand in the state.
The Faraday Future news came a day after another Southern California company working on a futuristic transportation project, Hyperloop Technologies, announced plans to expand to the same site: the sprawling Apex Industrial Park in North Las Vegas.
The firm, which is trying to develop a system that would propel passengers and cargo through nearly airless tubes at the speed of sound, said it will build a test track and conduct early-phase testing at the park.
Hyperloop officials, who haven't decided on a location for a larger, second-phase test track, said they chose Nevada because the state was able to move quickly to approve the project.