Published on April 13th, 2016 | by Zachary Shahan0
Interviewing Faraday Future’s SVP of R&D, Nick Sampson (Exclusive Video Interview)
April 13th, 2016 by Zachary Shahan
My trip to Los Angeles to cover the Tesla Model 3 unveiling was packed with several complementary events and meetings. One of the big ones was an interview with Nick Sampson, Faraday Future’s Senior Vice President of Product Research & Development, on the sidelines of Formula E.
With a keen interest in mass production of competitive electric vehicles for the average Joe or Jill, that’s how Kyle and I structured our interview questioning. In the video below, you can watch our interview with Nick. You can also jump down below that for some highlights in text form.
To kick things off, Nick says that his last two years at Faraday Future (he was a founding member of the board) have been better than anything he’s ever done — which includes work at Jaguar, Lotus, and Tesla Motors. Part of that is simply because of how innovative Faraday Future’s approach is, and part is how focused the company is on improving lives for individual humans and for humankind at the same time.
Nick added that the company had a really diverse group of people working on the product — people from the auto industry, from the aerospace industry, from the internet world, etc. In response to a tough question I tossed his way, he estimated that ~50% of the Faraday Future staff are software people.
Naturally, we’re interested in real cars here on CleanTechnica, so we didn’t ask any questions about the FFZERO1 — which I think is safe to call a pure, unrealistic concept car (the “vehicle” in the background there can’t even be driven). Our questioning focused on the production car Faraday Future is working. Nick commented that the company has a number of “mule vehicles” (using conventional auto bodies but with the Faraday Future technology inside) testing on public roads. Given the very short timeframe in which Faraday Future is aiming to bring a production car to market, it has been testing cars in northern Minnesota in the winter snow as much as possible (since there’s only a small window of time to do that throughout each year).
The company aims to have its first production car launched within two years. Unfortunately, Nick and team weren’t quite ready to talk about the car classes for initial products, but he said that they were going to start at the high end of the market and work down (the most logical approach, as Tesla knew), and were aiming to go through the process faster than anyone ever had.
There has been some uncertainty about whether Faraday Future would launch with a fully autonomous car. Nick clarified that they wouldn’t, but that is indeed the long-term aim. He added that they had a big roadmap on that topic, and that much of it simply involves regulatory barriers, rather than technological ones.
On the “connected car” front, the aim is to more seamlessly connect people’s technologies — so that they don’t have to get out their phone when they get into the car, for example. Interestingly, he highlighted that the really important phase of autonomous driving development and connectivity is the interim phase, where people may need to be alerted to take back control of a car that is on autopilot.
Check out the video for more details and the context from personal touch and tone that you can’t get in a text summary.