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Faraday Future Opens Up About Mule Testing

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Matt Lubbers, FF’s Brakes and Chassis Control Engineer Working on a Mule

If Faraday Future has done anything well in the 2 years of its young life, it’s generate hype. Having attended FF’s entrance onto the global media stage at the event at CES back in January, I can say that the global media was out in full force … and not just the typical automotive media. Quite a few of the attendees at the event were from the tech industry — tech evangelist Robert Scoble was champing at the bit to get in just prior to the event opening up; I sat next to Marques Brownlee, and was surrounded by the Mashable team, and that’s just who I could see near me.

Faraday Future had released trailers and teasers and visioncasting videos leading up to the event, and, quite honestly, it fell flat. The pack of reporters I was chatting with prior to the event contained a few folks who had ventured into the event before the official unveiling and confirmed that it was indeed the “Batmobile” that was leaked online that morning. We were deflated, in disbelief … we came here to see this? Hmm….

As with any startup, there comes a point where it’s time to “put up or shut up,” and Faraday Future has been taking step after step in the put up category. First, in confirming a stacked deck of top-tier talent, poached from the likes of BMW, Tesla, and Jaguar. Second, in ramping up staffing at the headquarters in Los Angeles and, more recently, in securing a solid tax incentive package and breaking ground on the factory just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada.

But all of that is really crap if that’s all there is to the company. None of those things put more electric vehicles on the road, and, more importantly, allow that many more internal combustion vehicles to be retired. Pretty pictures don’t clean up our atmosphere, plain and simple.

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Testing a mule

FF gets that. Since the unveiling and even a bit before, it has had rotten eggs tossed in the windows, at the FFzero1, over at the new factory. Not real eggs … but words. Doubt. Cries of vaporware can be found in the comments section of any piece on FF, and for good reason. Why design and show off a car that won’t ever go into production? Why spend tons of money and hard earned media coverage for … that? It doesn’t make sense … but, thankfully, Faraday Future gets that and is sharing a bit more concrete data to show that it’s not just about “the future” and “moving fast” but that a real, tangible, for purchase (or hire) car is going to come out of that factory in Nevada.

FF just shared a blog post detailing some of the testing that’s been happening and it seems that it’s been going on right under our noses … because that’s what mules are built to do. A mule is the heart and soul of a new vehicle — the chassis, the drivetrain, the power source (batteries, gasoline, hydrogen [gasp!], etc) all packed into the shell of a “normal” car … also known as something that won’t draw attention.

When CleanTechnica caught up with Nick Sampson at Formula E earlier this month, Zach asked about the production-ready car and Nick was eager to dive into the details: “We’ve already got a number of what we call mule vehicles. They’re vehicles that are built around other existing vehicles but with our technology put inside. We’ve already got a number of those running around.” So, basically, we had this information already … and then some.

Nick also confirmed where the testing is happening — though, in all honesty, we weren’t expecting an answer to the question. He confirmed that testing is happening in northern Minnesota in order to vet the battery and system response to ultra-cold weather and snow. Tesla does this testing in Norway and, while Minnesota might not be quite as glamorous, it is sufficiently stocked when it comes to cold weather.

It’s a neat piece and confirms that Faraday Future has been testing mules out on the road for a year now but doesn’t share much more than just the barebones of what a mule is and how long FF has been testing them. Yes, there is a quick teaser video that I’m sure someone is analyzing to determine what motor(s) are being used, what speed it is traveling at, and all those mundane details … but at the end of the day, I have one burning question that this and all of the other Faraday Future hype has left me with — when can people buy the production car?

The hype is like a bad relationship, with one thread of hope leading to the next, leading to the next, leading to the next … ad nauseum. All the while, Elon Musk and team have unveiled the Model 3. Chevy literally designed the Bolt and showed off prototypes of the Bolt right across the street from FF’s booth at CES … that we could drive. In person. So, yeah. I’m hopeful, I really am. I want Faraday Future to succeed and would love nothing more than some hard data to work with.

Tesla, for example, kept Model 3 TOTALLY under wraps. How they did that, I will never know, but it was amazing. But Tesla turned around and, in one night, absolutely blew the lid off the joint by revealing the car and giving test drives in it. We saw the touch screens, the glass roof, the great acceleration, and we were placated. FF on the other hand … I’m just ready for a car now. This roller-coaster ride is starting to become detrimental to my emotional health.

Having said all that, check out Zach’s interview with Nick Sampson at Formula E in Long Beach earlier this month (below). And on a related note, Faraday Future came on as the title sponsor for the Long Beach Formula E at the very last minute and still managed to pull off a great show with great exposure for the young upstart. I’m counting on you guys … don’t let me down (and please, pretty please, show me the production prototype soon)! k.thanks.bye 🙂

Image courtesy Faraday Future | Video Credit: Zachary Shahan, CleanTechnica

 
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Written By

I'm a tech geek passionately in search of actionable ways to reduce the negative impact my life has on the planet, save money and reduce stress. Live intentionally, make conscious decisions, love more, act responsibly, play. The more you know, the less you need. As an activist investor, Kyle owns long term holdings in BYD, SolarEdge, and Tesla.

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