We have been stalking Faraday Future since the early days — we’ve stayed on top of the rumors and weeded out the likely rumors from the unlikely — and the day has finally arrived. Faraday Future pulled the curtain back from the much anticipated first concept car tonight to let the world see the fruits of many months of secretive labor.
Arriving at the event early, I surveilled the premises to get a feel for what was in store. A large white tent sat in the middle of an otherwise vacant parking lot. It was buttoned up tight with few exceptions where stray LED light leaked onto the asphalt. At the front of the building, a double-wide door beckoned with the signature FF logo hovering overhead, beckoning me as if I were a child being lured into a mysterious circus tent.
As the time to enter approached, the anticipation grew amongst those gathered — though, the curiosity was tinged with the knowledge that a possible leak from earlier in the day might be what waited inside. It was nothing terrible or ugly, but it was not the sexy breakthrough passenger vehicle that many had hoped for. Perhaps we had imagined the utopian electric car that brought massive range, autonomous driving, and a revolutionary passenger experience — no driver needed, thank you very much.
As the clocks around the entry crossed the one-hour threshold, we grew restless and were soon let into the main room just as a new wave of rain ominously swept through town, chasing any stragglers into the dark tent. The main room was saturated by unnatural shades of purple and pink, with the tone fading awkwardly between the two in irregular frequencies. A stage sat in the front of the room with what was clearly the leaked vehicle under a sheet.
The show started with a replay of the “What if” teaser video that begged for… no — mandated — a fresh slate approach to passenger car design. The pace died down a bit when Nick Sampson, Senior Vice President of R&D and Product Development for Faraday Future, took the stage. He shared the four key pillars of what made Faraday & Future (as they were called in the presentation) tick… what called them from bed in the morning to head out to change the world:
- Amazing Team
- Transformative Vision
- Incredible Alliances
- They move very fast.
None of these themes are breakthrough. None of these are surprises. We have heard of the amazing team that has been assembled, though the updated employment numbers pin Los Angeles staff at 550 (vs. 400 in our last update) and other staff located elsewhere in the world at roughly 200.
The transformative vision has been the single main theme since the company came out into the public spotlight, a vision which boldly imagines a future beyond anything in existence today.
Incredible alliances were mentioned, though only an incestuous partnership with Letv was actually shared. This is hardly incredible, as Letv was similarly founded by FF bankroller Jia Yueting, making this more of an obvious fit — as if the firm were buying tires from a brother.
The last theme is interesting on a few levels, though not really new, as speed to market was a theme spotlighted in earlier updates, which featured a prolific use of augmented reality to shortcut product design. The company is obviously proud of what has been accomplished in a mere 18 months since inception, and now relies on this speed as a foundational value. Typically, in a project, there is a three-way balance between cost, quality, and timeline. If the timeline is being expedited, cost will inevitably go up (not good) or quality will suffer (worse). It will be interesting to see how this particular value evolves as the company grows into a production-volume automobile manufacturer.
Richard Kim, the Lead Designer for Faraday Future, then took the stage for the formal unveiling. After a brief intro, he queued some aggressive music and a projector light show started over the shrouded vehicle, painting images of spinning wheels while at the same time exposing the bones of the car from the chassis on up through the battery pack, until the car was fully fleshed out in the virtual world as well as the physical. The sheet was pulled back from the car gently as the video played as if shy about coming out into the light for the first time.
Richard also mentioned that Faraday had developed an entirely new, adaptable chassis that can stretch and adjust as needed, to the contours of the road around it. Similar to the Tesla skateboard rolling chassis, the batteries are in the center of the bottom — though, Tesla clusters them together. Additional battery strings — or single rows of batteries that span the width of the chassis — can be added (or removed) to accommodate larger (or smaller) vehicles.
The concept, named the FFzero1, looks like the Batmobile, plain and simple. We covered the leaked photos of this very same car just hours prior to the formal reveal and those images, it turned out, were spot on. It was exciting but depressing. Energized yet deflating. We had expected big things from FF. Most had expected a more traditionally designed sedan with room for 4–5 that may or may not have a steering wheel. It would be packed to the gills with futuristic technology and have chairs that swiveled around to allow the front seats to face the rear… but this was sadly not to be.
What greeted us instead was the Batmobile, fitted with racing clearance from tires to body, a single cockpit-style seat in the center and extreme design in the form of aero tunnels that stretched from the front to the rear of the vehicle, which supported aerodynamics and battery cooling to name a few things. Check out the gallery at the bottom for the goods and let us know what you think. Would you buy it? Would you be seen in it? Will they actually be able to make it?
This high-performance machine packs a punch with specs to make even supercar drivers jealous:
- 4 Quad Core Motors with over 1,000 horsepower
- 0-60 in less than 3 seconds
- Top Speed 200+ miles per hour
- Single-seat occupancy surrounded by newly developed high-performance materials
- A fully connected car featuring intuitive UI for integration between virtual and heads-up displays
- Smartphone-connected remote vehicle setup and anticipatory personalization; capable of live analysis of vehicle systems
- Innovative carbon fiber and lightweight composite construction
- Custom-built high-performance racing suspension
- Advanced vehicle dynamic control and torque vectoring
- Radically reduced drag and battery cooling through aero tunnel design
Unfortunately, this most recent event didn’t really take us too far beyond where we were before. There was no mention of the CEO or owner of the mysterious startup. There was no mention of battery chemistry, price, or firm timing — with the exception of a single mention that they were “a few years from production.” Most importantly, this concept is not a car that the masses would get excited about or even want to buy. Ultimately, that means that Faraday & Future does not yet have a concept for a car that might meet those needs. The new concept is interesting, but not compelling. Fast, but no room for the groceries….
tl;dr — not much has changed since they last talked with the press. Oh, and there’s a car.
Check out the official reveal video below along with a few more new vids from FF: