Faraday Future (FF) introduced its first “production” electric vehicle, the FF91, at CES yesterday. The EV hyperbole, better than the last one, continues in 2017. Is FF missing the point by not reaching out to all EV enthusiasts, just a few of them?
While unveiling hyper-EVs is great, by reaching out to a wider audience, they could show what the FF91 means now for smaller, more affordable EVs tomorrow based on the same platform. That message wasn’t clear.
So, here is one simple suggestion for FF’s marketing: K.I.S.S (keep it simple, stupid).
Who Will Trump The Nissan LEAF?
No one, so far. Nissan produces a simple and affordable EV that almost anyone can buy or lease. The LEAF accommodates almost any daily commute. It has a lot of trunk space and a decent range. The new LEAFs will increase that range even more. Does this mean we need yet another hyper-EV? Well, yes and no.
So far, the Nissan LEAF trumps the competition with a relatively simple EV that does the job well. Although the Tesla Model S and the BMW i3 outperform it, the LEAF humbly delivers in an affordable way. The FF F91 ups the ante for all EVs. The specs alone are mouthwatering. 1,050 HP and north of “1,800 Newton-meters” of torque. That’s 1,327.61 ft∙lb of ludicrous torque. This is more than a Mack truck! It will also leave behind almost any cars with an insane 0–60 in 2.39 seconds. FF managed to shoehorn a 130 kWh battery pack in this EV giving it a 378-mile (608-km) range (EPA adjusted). According to FF, the FF91 could squeeze out 482 miles (776 kilometers) at 55 mph (89 km/h).
In order to reach these numbers, FF is working on its own DC quick charging stations. It will deliver a 200 kW charging system. To put that into perspective, Tesla offers only 120 kW with its current Superchargers. And yes, wireless charging is in the works.
I can see a wave of compatibility issues rising here.
The FF91 will see and read the road and be autonomous ready. It carries no less than 10 outward cameras, 13 radars, and 12 ultrasonic sensors, as well as a 360-degree 3D Lidar sensor. And for those pesky parking problems, FF includes a driverless valet. The FF91 will drop you off and look for a place to park. Once parked, it will send you a message.
That is a serious engineering feat. But is that what I need? Yes, I would like to have that, but its performance would be seriously limited in our always congested Los Angeles traffic.
The Ludicrous EV Phase
FF is competing with some big boys — Tesla Motors, Lucid Motors, and NextEV. As a startup, it needs to strike the iron while hot. To be fair, it doesn’t have the manufacturing capacity Nissan has. It can’t produce 20,000 FF91 in a month to keep costs down. This means the FF91 will be very expensive.
This year’s 1½ hour introduction of the FF91 at CES was similar to last year’s. It was painfully slow. While it delivered a hopeful message for the future, it left me with more questions than answers. The most important one on everyone’s mind is when will we see an affordable FFxx? You can skip through the first 15 minutes to see Nick Sampson start the introduction below.
Don’t get me wrong. I like FF a lot and hope they will deliver. I hope they will over-deliver to quickly introduce a smaller, more affordable EV. Tesla is doing so with its Model 3, and FF could as well. Seeing yet another hyperbole EV leaves me with a feeling of déjà vu. I’m happy it pushes the EV envelope and thumbs its nose at its internal combustion engine (ICE) competition. But it doesn’t translate into my everyday life needs. What FF missed was to answer the how — how quickly and and how efficiently. Instead, its message relied on how it would transform the future. That’s a great message, but it needs a quick “how to” attached to it.
We all need a little dreaming these days. But we seem to have way too much dreaming and not enough practical reality. It’s not easy for any car manufacturer to introduce something new. It’s a slow and arduous road. It’s even tougher introducing an EV. And it’s tougher yet for a startup. Creating a splash is a great way to get everyone’s attention, but the trick is to keep it simple and real. Unobtainium EVs are a bit of a tease. Reaching out to the EV mass enthusiasts is crucial these days to avoid going in the wrong direction with the message.
Faraday Future Needs To Capture Hearts, Not Eyeballs
I still think FF could be one of the biggest mobility transformers of this world. But I have a hard time relating to a 1,000+ HP EV unless I take it to the track. That means it needs to sustain that performance for many laps. The Model S can’t achieve more than one lap without seriously restricting its power output.
Perhaps FF needs to reach out to the mass EV enthusiasts by tweaking its message. It needs to say: “Hey, this is what we can do now. And it means this for next year.” They would win over enthusiasts across the board with a palpable agenda anyone could look forward to. FF should say that this hyper-EV means a smaller and more practical EV based on the same platform. Then it would win heart shares and capture eyeballs while raising eyebrows.
Let us know what you think of the introduction and what FF could have done better. It seems this introduction could have been boiled down to 20 minutes in a more effective way without missing any points. The FF91 deserves it, with a little bit of coaching and a different communication strategy.
One thing is for sure for this year: I’m looking forward to more deliveries I can sink my teeth into with a healthy hyperbole balance. Right now, there is too much supersized EV juice and not enough I can buy today.
Disclaimer: This author would love to work with FF to help tweak its communication and marketing content. 🙂
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