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October 21, 2016

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LeSee prototype car misfired in launch

LEECO has made an inauspicious entry into the race to develop self-driving electric cars when its prototype car could not make it down the runway at a gala event.

LeEco planned to unveil its self-driving car prototype on Wednesday as part of a US launch for an array of tech products and services, including phones, televisions and entertainment production.

Executives from Qualcomm and Lionsgate joined LeEco founder Jia Yueting to underscore the importance of the US market to one of China’s biggest technology companies.

The choice of the San Francisco venue, in the backyard of luxury electric car maker Tesla and Alphabet Inc’s Google self-driving car team, underscored the globalization of the race to develop connected, electric and eventually autonomous vehicles.

But when Jia made his appearance running down a long runway in a cloud of dry ice, he had to tell the audience his LeSee prototype car couldn’t drive down the show’s runway as planned.

“It shouldn’t be me running out here, we didn’t have any other choice,” Jia said through a translator. “What we wanted was me in the car, and the autonomous car drives me out.”

The misfire was caused by a delay getting the LeSee car prototype from London — where it is being used in the film “Transformers 5” — to San Francisco, company officials said.

The LeSee prototype — first unveiled in April in Beijing — was made available for viewing after the show.



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