Only a non-working prototype was available.

If there ever was an award for the most surreal car launch of 2016, LeEco’s LeSee prototype takes the cake. It was supposed to be a hallmark event for the Chinese tech company as it signaled the start of its foray into autonomous driving, but when it came time for the LeSee to make its grand entrance in its own U.S. unveiling in San Francisco, the actual prototype wasn’t there; it was still stuck in London filming its appearance in Transformers V: The Last Knight.

Apparently, the schedule brouhaha forced LeEco to proceed with the unveiling without the car. To be fair, there was a prototype available, but it didn’t have the autonomous driving capabilities of the other prototype. So Jia sauntered down the runway, telling the audience through a translator that “it shouldn’t be me running out here, we didn’t have any other choice. What we wanted was me in the car, and the autonomous car drives me out."

To be fair, the LeSee prototype actually made its official debut in Beijing back in April 2016. So at least LeEco has that going for it. But it’s still pretty embarrassing when you consider that the company pulled out all the stops for a grand U.S. unveiling, even doing it in the Bay Area, in close proximity to Palo Alto where some of the biggest tech giants, including Apple and Google are located, only to end up with egg on its face because of what boils down to a conflict in schedule.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

Minor episode that shouldn’t paint LeEco’s future

I’ve been covering the auto industry for the better part of seven years now and while I’ve seen a good share of oddities that have happened in some auto shows, I don’t think something like this has ever happened. It’s one thing for some technical glitches to mess up a car’s unveiling, but for the actual, working prototype to be missing in action? That’s just bizarre down to its roots.

But apart from what happened, I actually have high hopes for LeEco; I think it’s going to surprise a lot of people, not because I love what the company came up with for a prototype, but because I think that it’s made up of smart and dedicated people who not only know what they’re doing, but are equally passionate about doing it.

Having executives from Qualcomm and Lionsgate present during the unveiling is also a good sign for the company because these tech firms are taking notice of what it’s plans are in terms autonomous driving. It’s also important to point out that LeEco’s executives have a vision for the LeSee prototype, including a planned shared ownership system with LA-based Faraday Future that’s also controlled by Jia Yueting.

In the end, the company’s plans for its cars moving forward is the important thing and from the looks of it, that vision is still firmly in place, botched unveilings notwithstanding.

Source: Reuters

What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: