Chinese technology company LeEco’s planned U.S. introduction of its LeSee Pro self-driving car in San Francisco yesterday didn’t go exactly as intended.
Instead of the car making its way down a long runway through a cloud, LeEco founder, Chinese billionaire Jia Yueting, came running through the mist and told the gathered media throng his LeSee prototype car couldn’t drive down the show’s runway.
“It shouldn’t be me running out here, we didn’t have any other choice,” Jia told the audience, speaking through a translator. “What we wanted was me in the car, and the autonomous car drives me out.”
What caused the misfire?
Plan A was scrapped because the debut car was involved in a serious collision as it was being driven from Los Angeles to San Francisco.
Plan B didn’t go very well either.
The company was able to get the LeSee Pro, which was in London for the filming of the Transformers 5 movie, to San Francisco on short notice.
However, Bay Area traffic intervened, and eventually the car was unveiled outside the main event room after Jia’s talk.
During the presentation, Jia and other company executives said they weren’t ready to reveal the car’s cost, production schedule, or technical details.
All they would say was that the LeSee Pro was “more intelligent and more connected” than the original LeSee concept car first unveiled at the Beijing Auto Show last April.
In the walk around outside, a steering wheel was demonstrated that retracts into the dashboard when in autonomous mode, allowing the driver to consume all of LeEco’s streaming entertainment content that it plans to bring to the U.S.
An exterior light display changes between five different colors to signal which drive mode is being used.
Depending on the color, the car will inform drivers and pedestrians when the vehicle is driving autonomously, sees a hazard, is charging, or is ready for car sharing.
A production LeSee Pro will be introduced in January at the Consumer Electronics (CES) show in Las Vegas — barring any accidents or heavy traffic.
Notably, Faraday Future, a startup controlled by Jia, will also reveal its battery electric self-driving car at CES as well.