Once upon a time, fully electric cars were the stuff of science fiction. Nobody had put any serious time, money, or talent toward bringing the idea to life. In the slightly less distant past, electric cars started to make headway slowly, with the first models being niche novelty pieces that, while environmentally friendly, were quite impractical. When hybrids came along, popularized by the likes of the Ford Escape Hybrid and Toyota Prius, bigger automakers began to look a bit more seriously into electric cars, and the concept began to catch on internationally. Fast forward to today, and there are tons of automakers and even tech firms pushing into the electric car space. One of those is Chinese Android OEM and tech company LeEco.
After having recently shown off one of their own self-driving car prototypes at a trade show, LeEco is now announcing their intent to not only move into manufacturing their own self-driving cars, but to pump approximately $1.8 billion into it. Specifically, their plan is to erect a factory in eastern China that will, at peak capacity, be able to manufacture 400,000 self-driving vehicles per year. The factory will be put in Deqing county, near Hangzhou, and the building will take place in two separate phases. When the dust settles, LeEco plans to use the factory as central operations for worldwide manufacture of self-driving cars. This factory will not be their only one, of course; another is planned, in the United States. LeEco will be putting up a factory in Las Vegas in partnership with Faraday Future.
Spurred on by a recent Chinese government initiative to help fund the creation of more electric cars to alleviate some of the country's air pollution, LeEco is planning to make the huge factory just one part of an "Eco Experience Park", where investors, customers, and even casual visitors can take in LeEco's technological prowess, eyeball their products, and have a little fun at a LeEco-built theme park. There will also be offices there, allowing businesses to call the park home as well. Right now, there is no announced timeline for the plans to begin work on either factory, or the park that will surround the one in China.