Automobile startup Faraday Future—or FF, as the company calls itself—began building hype this past summer with hints at plans for extravagant vehicles, factories, and investors. Since news of the company first hit the press, the electric vehicle manufacturing company has been called a likely Tesla rival. Staffed with a reported 750 high-ranking auto industry veterans and innovators, from the likes of Tesla, BMW, Boeing, Apple, and NASA, with billions in backing from China’s Leshi Internet Information and Technology Co, or LeTV (the “Netflix of China”), and plans to break ground soon on their North Las Vegas factory (with a rumored price tag of $1 billion), FF is already sounding like it’s way beyond the “startup” designation; it’s poised to be a major automobile manufacturing force.
But although FF seemed to be opening up a bit more to the press about their company during the last few months of 2015, still relatively little is known about them. They haven’t publicly announced a CEO, and their much-hyped debut at CES in early January left many frustrated. Tech Crunch’s Matt Burns even called Faraday Future “the Donald Trump of startups.”
Quoted reached out to FF’s press team, but FF apologized and informed us that they were not conducting any interviews or answering any questions at this time. Though we try not to fall for hype and secrecy meant to entice, we must say that Faraday Future has us intrigued. We’ve put together what we know about the company so far…
CES: Faraday Future’s Debut
Before this year’s CES–the Consumer Electronics Show which this year took place in Las Vegas January 5-8–very little was known about Faraday Future. No business plan, prototypes, or company information had been shown to the public at all. But on January 6, FF introduced their FFZERO1, which is, in their words: “more than a concept car, it’s a car of concepts.”
The Las Vegas Sun described the car: “FFZERO1 is a one-seater racecar with a seat positioned at a 45-degree angle that is supposed to emulate NASA’s zero-gravity technology. It can dock a smartphone in the center of its steering wheel, part of what makes the vehicle, in the company’s global head of design Richard Kim’s words, a ‘tablet on wheels.’ The car can also broadcast live images and real-time data visualization.”
And while the FFZERO1 certainly stunned, FF executives made it clear that the concept car is just that—a concept, not meant to represent FF’s market-ready vehicles. At CES, the International Business Times spoke with Nick Sampson, product architect at FF, who said that although their production vehicles—slated for a 2018 release—won’t look like the FFZERO1, they will retain subsystems of the car.
Many auto industry folks were hoping for more from FF at its CES unveiling. Some expected a production-ready model, while others were hoping FF would transform the auto industry now, not in a few years. The IBT explained the disappointments: though FF’s concept drew big crowds, it was “a long way from the intelligence, autonomous transport solution the industry was expecting.” Many referred to it as an “undrivable Batmobile.”
But according to FF, it’s all part of the bigger picture. At CES, Sampson told the IBT Faraday Future’s game plan: “The car is an expression of what we are as a company and also an illustration of what we can do on top of the platform we’re developing for our production vehicles. At the moment we’re being a little bit mysterious, but that’s part of the company that we are, we like to keep a few things secret.” The IBT explained that FF’s technique, called variable platform architecture (VPA) will allow several different types of vehicles to be built on top of the same chassis — an inexpensive way to innovate quickly.
FF, in Their Own Words
Faraday Future’s intentions are clear: they mean to transform the auto industry.
“We believe that today’s cars do not meet today’s needs,” FF says. “By placing equal emphasis on automotive and technology disciplines, our team of experts is uniquely positioned to take a user-centric, technology-first approach to vehicle design with the ultimate aim of connecting the automotive experience to the rest of your life.
We will launch with fully electric vehicles that will offer smart and seamless connectivity to the outside world. Beyond traditional electric vehicles, we are also developing other aspects of the automotive and technology industries, including unique ownership models, in-vehicle content and autonomous driving.”
Sampson told Business Insider’s Mathew DeBord that their company plan hinges on “widespread adoption of electric vehicles,” and with the public adopting EVs at a slower-than-anticipated rate, some might call their strategy risky. But, Sampson told DeBord, FF believes that with more and better EV choices, consumers will be more willing to consider EVs.
It looks like, for now, we’ll have to wait to see what FF will offer consumers. And though many folks expect more smoke and mirrors from FF, they’re nonetheless ready for the show.