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BMW executive Kranz joins electric car startup Faraday Future

Reuters

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Faraday Future, an electric car start-up backed by Chinese entrepreneur Jia Yueting, has hired BMW <BMWG.DE> veteran Ulrich Kranz as chief technology officer, as it pushes to accelerate production of its FF91 luxury electric SUV despite its parent's financial woes.

Faraday is part of a network of young electric vehicle (EV) firms in China and the United States backed by Jia, whose indebted film production-to-cars conglomerate is facing a severe cash crunch after rapid expansion.

Kranz joins as Faraday struggles to support some of its loftier goals, including beating Elon Musk's Tesla Motors in premium EV making. It said last week it would move production of the FF91 to a new site to get the car to production faster, effectively mothballing a stalled $1 billion Las Vegas factory.

Faraday said in a statement late on Monday that Kranz would lead all engineering and technology research and development, purchasing and manufacturing improvements - "focused on getting the FF91 to production quickly".

At BMW, Kranz led the carmaker's i electric vehicle project, launching vehicle lines including the i8, i3, Z3 and X5. He also worked on the revival of the Mini brand, Faraday said.

BMW said Kranz handed over responsibility for developing BMW's "i" vehicles to colleague Robert Irlinger on January 1, 2017.

BMW has seen a string of electric vehicle engineers defect to Chinese startup carmakers.

Last year Dirk Abendroth, manager of BMW's "i" powertrain group, Henrik Wenders, vice president product management BMW "i", and Carsten Breitfeld, head of the i8 vehicle program, were poached by Future Mobility Corp.

BMW said defections were not affecting the carmaker's ability to develop more electric vehicles. The engineering team developing its "iNext" vehicle is bigger than ever, a spokesman for the company said on Tuesday.

Stefan Krause, a BMW veteran and now Faraday's global chief financial officer, also was appointed chief operating officer.

(Reporting by Clara Ferreira Marques and Edward Taylor; Editing by Stephen Coates/Keith Weir)