Faraday Future revealed its wild FFZERO1 Concept in Las Vegas and its visual impact is right in the company’s name – this is a Futuristic car! However, a practical indication of what is to come it is not. This “Car of Concepts,” as Head of Design Richard Kim called it, is an extreme exercise containing a few elements that presage the company’s production vehicles.
The FFZERO1 is best understood as a middle chapter in Faraday Future’s story. The concept demonstrates that FF, the company’s self-selected moniker, can design a notional 200+ mile per hour, 1,000 horsepower race car.
This is an extreme test bed, not an attempt to enter the well served hyper-car market.
If I had a billion dollars, I would probably not use it to green-field a new car company, but fortunately for those of us who believe more competition is good, Chinese billionaire Jia Yueting has taken the plunge. And his new company, Faraday Future, has been on a tear.
The company acknowledged its own existence less than a year ago and has hired 750 people since. In December, the location of its three million square foot production facility outside Las Vegas was announced. And now, a car Faraday Future calls, “a concept inspired by our design and engineering vision for the future of mobility” has been unveiled.
Perhaps the most revealing visual element of the concept is its main character line circling the car. The crease is most pronounced where the doors, were they present, would be. FF calls it the UFO line and it plans to carry it through all of its products.
Faraday Future designs its products from the inside out and it is evident in the concept. Great care has been lavished on the interior, where colors, materials, and functionality are thoroughly considered and addressed. A focal point of the instrumentation is the smartphone dock in the steering wheel hub.
FF plans to integrate the phone with the car, making the user experience more familiar and transportable across vehicles. Practical safety considerations may alter the phone’s placement, but this element can be anticipated in subsequent FF vehicles. The 45 degree reclining, single mid-mounted seat with integrated oxygen may not make it to production, but the drive-by-wire, asymmetric instrument panel, in some form, will.
The company plans to offer multiple vehicles on a single platform that it calls Variable Platform Architecture. Platform sharing is an age old strategy employed to reduce cost and speed development but what may be new this time is the degree of flexibility. FF claims it can build race cars, sedans, hatchbacks, crossovers, and even a pickup on it.
At this point, however, we can only speculate on what they will build.
Faraday Future shares undeniable similarities with Tesla. Both are California-based and Faraday Future even employs numerous Tesla alums. Both companies share an all-electric vision and have their sights firmly set on being autonomous pioneers. Each organization is also anti-auto establishment.
They even share a similar philosophy in wrapping themselves in the names of famous 19th century innovators.
Tesla has a head-start, but the companies are different in at least one other fundamental way: Tesla is working to evolve the traditional dealer distribution network through direct sales. Faraday Future, however, wants to revolutionize the user experience. FF is embracing on-demand transportation and has made it a core tenet of its corporate philosophy.
We know more today than we did yesterday about Faraday Future, but we still have more questions than answers. However, if FF gets anywhere near achieving their goal of releasing their first production vehicle in “about 2017” we won’t have long to wait.
*Seth Parks is an auto industry veteran, entrepreneur, and Seattle Seahawks fan. Follow him on Twitter: @mseth_parks