Faraday Future wants to reformat the automotive industry, but it's having serious trouble getting off the ground.
Faraday Future is part of a growing group of domestic and overseas companies created with one explicit goal in mind: to take down Tesla Motors and dominate the fast, luxurious electric vehicle segment. The California-based, China-backed startup has hired employees from BMW, Lamborghini, Chevrolet, Jaguar Land Rover, Tesla, and even SpaceX in a bid to get its ambitious project off the ground.
Earlier this year, Faraday Future unveiled a head-turning concept named FFZero1 at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The sleek, sporty coupe wouldn’t look out of place on the starting grid of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but executives have made it clear it was simply a design study built to show the world what Faraday’s team of designers and engineers are capable of. The brand’s upcoming production model will be a lot more down to earth.
Faraday Future introduced its first production car at CES 2017 in Las Vegas. This is everything we know so far about it, and about the cryptic company working overtime to become Tesla’s biggest nightmare.
FF sued for $1.8 Million by video production company
Finding the silver lining to Faraday’s story is becoming more difficult as Jalopnik reports that the EV startup has been sued once again. A video effects company claims FF has only paid $20,000 of a $1.8 million invoice for a 3D-car presentation that would display a concept vehicle to “bigwigs or celebrity type people.” The Mill Group reportedly produced this virtual tour on the assumption that FF would pay for its services in three installments.
After “repeated requests for payment and promises by Faraday to pay,” The Mill Group asserts that it has yet to receive a completed initial payment of $455K. Neither Faraday Future nor The Mill Group have commented further on this lawsuit, but we can assume it may further delay any hopes of the automaker completing its $1 billion manufacturing plant in Nevada.
Faraday nets just 60 pre-orders after CES
Faraday Future had a lot riding on this year’s CES, which not only saw the reveal of its first pre-production vehicle, it also marked the opening day for pre-orders. The automaker’s financial struggles have been well-documented, and with executives jumping ship and its production facility on pause, Faraday needed a big jolt of energy to give its investors and fans confidence. The brand certainly made a lot of noise at the show, but we’re not quite sure it got the boost it so desperately sought.
According to a new report by Business Insider, just 60 people plunked down $5,000 to reserve an FF 91 after CES. It’s important to note that you can technically reserve an FF 91 without committing any cash, but either way, the company can’t be thrilled with that figure. Faraday has since denied the report’s claims, telling Digital Trends it has “far exceeded” the number of available reservations for the FF 91 Alliance Edition. For reference, the Alliance Edition is limited to 300 units.
Introducing the FF 91
After months of teasing, Faraday Future finally revealed its first production car at CES 2017. Dubbed the FF 91, the electric vehicle boasts some of the most impressive performance specs we’ve ever seen, with a massive 130kW battery pack generating a whopping 1,050 horsepower. Flat out, Faraday says the FF 91 will sprint to 60 mph in just 2.39 seconds, while also offering 378 miles of total driving range.
Tech is the name of the game in this segment though, and it’s in that regard that the vehicle really shines. The car is fitted with the full gambit of autonomous and semiautonomous goodies, including 10 cameras, 13 radar sensors, one 3D lidar sensor, and 12 ultrasonic sensors. Working together, Faraday says the FF 91 will be able to drive itself, park itself, and seamlessly connect with all of your mobile devices. There were a couple hiccups during the live reveal (watch the full event right here), so clearly, the company has some kinks to work out before the car’s planned release in 2018.
For more details as well as photos and videos, check out our full story and first impressions.
Is Faraday Future really building a car?
The short answer is “yes.” Faraday Future is on the verge of showing its very first car, and it expects to begin deliveries in about two years. Performance and technical specifications are still under wraps for the time being — its name hasn’t even been made public yet. We do know that the model will ride on a modular platform named Variable Product Architecture (VPA) that was developed from scratch, and will use lithium-ion battery cells sourced from LG Chem. California regulators gave Faraday permission to test self-driving cars in June, a move that all but confirms the car will be offered with semiautonomous technology.
Motorists might not want to give up the wheel because Faraday’s EV will be one of the fastest-accelerating production cars in the world. A recently released teaser video shows a camouflaged test mule beating a Tesla Model X in a race down a drag strip. The X hits 60 mph from a stop in 2.9 seconds in its fastest configuration, so the video hints that its Faraday-badged rival will be seriously quick.
Faraday Future received its first U.S. patent in March 2016, according to its official website. The power inverter it patented was developed in-house with an emphasis on simplicity and straightforwardness. It’s built using fewer components than inverters manufactured by other brands, and it achieves 20 to 30 percent greater power density.
How much will it cost?
Former executives who asked to remain anonymous told Reuters that Faraday Future is aiming high. Known as Project 91 internally, its first model will sell for anywhere between $150,000 and $200,000, figures that will make it considerably more expensive than even the range-topping variant of the Tesla Model S. The information has not been confirmed by the company.
A second, more affordable model called simply Project 81 will debut about a year later. It will be followed by an entry-level car in about 2020.
Faraday’s racing team
Even without a production car on the market, Faraday Future is already rivaling some of the biggest names in the industry. The company has joined with the Dragon Racing team to compete against Audi, Jaguar, Renault, and Mahindra in the FIA’s burgeoning Formula E series with a brand new race car.
The 1,940-pound racer is capable of hitting 62 mph from a stop in 2.9 seconds, and it goes on to a top speed of 150 mph. It generates 270 horsepower, and it boasts a maximum regenerative capacity of 150 kilowatts, powered by the brakes as drivers enter corners and chicanes. As of this writing, Faraday Future is seventh overall in the series.
Who is behind Faraday Future?
Faraday Future is backed by Chinese billionaire Jia Yueting and his LeEco tech company, though that source of funding seems threatened. In a recent letter to employees, Jia wrote that the company had overextended itself and was running out of cash. He said that was due not only to automotive projects, but also the recent effort to launch LeEco’s television and smartphone lines in the U.S. In addition to Faraday Future, LeEco has mulled building cars under its own brand name, and has a partnership with Aston Martin.
Future Faraday cars will wear a ‘made in Nevada’ label
Faraday Future is in the process of building a 3-million-square-foot, $1.3 billion factory in North Las Vegas, Nevada. The brand chose to set up shop in the Silver State after local government officials awarded it $219.5 million in tax incentives. If Faraday delivers on its promises, the site could give Nevada’s economy a major boost by employing 4,500 workers.
Construction work started in April 2016, but the project was put on hold the following November because AECOM, the contractor in charge of the project, is waiting for $58 million in late payments. AECOM is confident construction will resume in a timely manner, though a more specific time frame hasn’t been provided.
Allegations of financial issues
A recent report finds Faraday Future is in dire financial straits. The automaker is allegedly being sued by a supplier over unpaid invoices, and by a real estate company over unpaid rent. The unstable financial situation has led more than a few employees to leave the company, according to the same report.
Digital Trends hasn’t been able to reach Faraday Future for comment, and the company hasn’t responded to the allegations. However, the firm posted several messages on its official Twitter account that essentially portray it as the victim of a biased, unfair smear campaign. The company explains that “skepticism and negativity only strengthen our conviction to redefine sustainable mobility.” A second Tweet points out “media pessimism is standard fare for disruptors. Deliberate negative info from press and competitors is the welcomed risk of innovation.”