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Interview With Carsten Breitfeld, CEO of Faraday Future

“Take more risks and move faster, it’s the only way to go and to survive in the long term.”

1: Given you’re a few years in EVs already – and looking at your personal work – what would you do differently today if you could go a few years, 5 years, back?

I’m extremely happy with the path my career has taken me, and I have no regrets. I learned my lessons and I’m grateful for what I learned from my time at BMW where I had the opportunity to learn a lot. My experience and my lessons learned in my career have made me very well prepared for the next chapter in my career here at FF.

2: A lot of the i-team from BMW went to other manufacturers and helped built the current wave of EVs. What was special about this group of people?

The BMW i8 was an amazing program that was not only about technology and product, but also about understanding what was going to shape the future of our industry. No one believed that a three-cylinder engine in a BMW sports car, combined with an electric powertrain at the front axle would be feasible, and be able to compete with a Porsche Carrera 911 4S, but we ended up with a very successful product. And that was exactly what was special about that group of people – we believed in our ideas when no one else thought we would be successful, and that is why that particular group is helping to build the current wave of electric vehicles.

3: The FF 91 looks stunning! What do you consider a success for where FF should be in 2022 in terms of models and volumes?

Thank you very much. To back up a little, I came to FF because I saw from a technology and product perspective, and a business model perspective that this company can be a leader in this market. FF is way more mature and is much further along than the other competitors you see in this space. We have a perfect market opportunity in front of us and getting this capital in is the next best step for our company at this time. We have very excited investors, with an oversubscribed PIPE of $795M. People are very excited. We have a very conservative, realistic business plan that we are confident we can deliver on, as investors have discovered in doing due diligence and speaking with us.

We will successfully deliver the FF 91 to the market and we will deliver the product according to our business plan. We will also be looking forward to the ramp up of the FF 81 and FF 71 starting in 2023. Our volume projections can be built and sold in the market only based on production capacity at our own plant, and with our South Korean contract manufacturer.

4: Can we expect a cheaper model from Faraday soon?

Our next vehicle will be the FF 81, which will compete in the area where Tesla Model X and S are playing today. The FF 71 model is in our future as well, which will go into the real volume segment, starting around $45,000. Our commitment is that we are going to launch the FF 91 within 12 months after our merger with SPAC closes, and then the next product will go to market 18 months later.

Carsten Breitfeld

Carsten Breitfeld, CEO of Faraday Future

5: Could you describe the SPAC process for you as CEO, and how it was emotionally to be chief of a listed company? Are you happy with the outcome?

Since FF’s beginning, the company has stood apart for its performance, technology and unique vision to revolutionize the in-car experience and is now only 12 months from the scheduled production of its flagship vehicle, the FF 91. As such, the primary factor for the company in choosing to pursue a SPAC merger, was speed to market. We are accelerating at just the right time. We are very pleased with upsized $795M PIPE fundraising, and now have $1B of gross proceeds to the company, which will put us in a very strong position to execute our business plan to safely launch our first vehicle and prepare for the launch of the next one. I am very happy about this, and this shows the success of all the work that we’ve put in so far. I’m very proud of our team – we’ve all worked very hard, with many passionate people involved. This milestone can be attributed to the FF team’s passion and will to succeed and make things happen. We don’t give up, and we always do what it takes to keep moving forward.  I’m very happy to be the CEO of a public company, to be at FF at this pivotal time, it’s not always an easy task but it forces you to focus yourself and overdeliver.

6: How did you adjust personally to the working environment in Los Angeles – and what could you tell our readers about how you got to know the different working and company cultures at your former companies and currently at Faraday?

It was easy to adjust to the working environment here in LA, people live and work here for many reasons, one of which is obviously the terrific weather and of course the ocean which I agree with! But seriously, I am a German engineer, and we are known for under promising and over delivering. That is my work ethic, and a mindset that I am taking to FF and instilling in our team for the future.  In Los Angeles, we are focused on execution, and bringing products into production. Its also great that we are close to our manufacturing center in Hanford California. We are a global company, with operations in China as well, where I spent a considerable amount of time working, so I’m dealing with multiple cultures and geographic locations which I enjoy tremendously.

7: What are Faraday’s unique technology differentiators inside the car, and can you tell me a bit about the third living space?

FF is positioned to go beyond what’s expected by consumers and businesses with our unique approach to the in-car experience with our I.A.I (Internet, Autonomous Driving, and Intelligence) system that will be core to our portfolio. Most immediately, FF will bring to market the first true ‘third Internet living space’ that allows consumers to move seamlessly between home, work and anywhere else. The FF 91 will bring this concept to light, with the most advanced software, Internet, and artificial intelligence available in cars. Some of our unique differentiators for the ultimate passenger experience include:

  • Facial recognition in each seating zone automatically loads FFID profiles and user-specific personal preferences
  • Individual sound and climate zones to personalize experience
  • NASA-inspired Zero Gravity seats with industry leading 60° recline and most leg room in its class
  • Innovative Spa mode with ventilated seats, seat massage and control over ambient environment
  • A world of displays, including the industry’s first 17″ front passenger screen and industry leading 27″ rear passenger display, allowing users to stream their favorite movies, TV shows and live sports while FF 91 is in motion without driver distraction
  • Continuous broadband connectivity and high speed powered Super Mobile AP (three modems)
  • Enhanced user experience platform powered by Android to enable seamless access to 3rd party apps — FFAI supports complex commands

8: Battery technology is important – how important is it to Faraday and where do you see it heading in the next few years globally in terms of prices and volumes?

Our battery technology has a fascinating design. We have a submerged liquid cell cooling approach, so there’s no mechanical elements, which allows us to create a very high level of energy density. It’s the highest level of energy density you can get, and the cooling is very efficient. It’s like jumping into a 70 degree pool on a 100 degree day, so our cells cool down very quickly. This allows us to pull energy in and out very fast, so we can charge extremely quickly, and build high performance power trains. This technology is patented and proprietary, and our modular battery design with independent battery strings enables production for a variety of vehicles and configurations.

9: Since you also have a detailed understanding of legacy car makers, what would you recommend to their CEOs in a personal conversation?

Take more risks and move faster, it’s the only way to go and to survive in the long term.

10: You’re now in Los Angeles at the heart of self-driving tech development – what other regions are leading there? What stages do you think we’re going through towards fully autonomous vehicles – or are you expecting something completely different?

As you outlined yourself, California is at the heart of self-driving tech development. China has also emerged as a major powerhouse in self-driving technology over the last few years. FF, with our dual home bases in both California and China, is uniquely positioned to take advantage of innovative technology in both these leading regions. We are working with some excellent partners in both regions. The path to fully autonomous vehicles won’t happen overnight. The vehicle must be trained to handle a long tail of scenarios that it might encounter on the road. There are no shortcuts. There were very inflated expectations about full autonomy for the last few years. Recently, companies are making more realistic projections. At FF, we will initially focus on delivering a high degree of safety, comfort, and convenience in our vehicles. In the beginning, you can expect these features to be what is commonly known as Level 2 autonomy, but with FF’s own signature user experience. We will continuously deliver improvements to the system via OTA software updates. Our Intelligent Driving Experience will learn to handle real driving scenarios through continuous data collection and distributed learning. We believe this continuous learning approach is the best way to achieve higher levels of autonomy including full autonomous driving.

11: And, what advice would you give young professionals finishing their studies now?

Be flexible mentally and geographically, explore other cultures whenever you can, move fast, take risks, do what you love, love what you do. The world is moving faster and faster but it is becoming an exciting place for those who truly want to change the world.

 
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I'm investing in positive companies and am passionate about climate action and long-term human challenges. Early partner at BEAM (United People of Climate Action) and CleanTechnica (#1 cleantech-focused new & analysis website in the world), among others.

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