Faraday Future, the California-based automakers who have perplexed the media over the past year, revealed their hotly anticipated concept car at Monday’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The sleek, high-performance, single-seat race car–called FFZero1–boasts a 1,000 horsepower engine, accelerates from zero to 60 in less than three seconds, and can top speeds of over 200 miles per hour.
According to the company, the goal “was to build a car with a sixth sense for its driver’s intentions and needs–one with adaptive personalization, seamless transfer of custom vehicle configurations, access to live images, and real time data visualization.”
In the months preceding the CES unveiling, the company teased audiences with hints about its transformative vision and revolutionary concept design, promising to redefine our relationship to movement with “the ultimate aim of connecting the automotive experience to the rest of [our lives].”
The secrecy surrounding Faraday’s founding only served to heighten suspense leading up to its first concept reveal. Until journalists succeeded in unearthing the identities of the CEO and the primary financer (Chaoying Deng and Jia Yueting, respectively), the company itself refused to disclose that information.
With a team partially comprised of Tesla Motors engineers, a brand new contract for a $1 billion manufacturing plant in Nevada, and significant foreign backing, Faraday seemed well-positioned to deliver on its lofty claims.
It is not surprising then, that a sexy spaceship race car was not what most consumers had in mind, and that the unveiling of the FFZero1 left a frustrated audience scratching its head and asking, who the hell do they think we are?
Let’s be real: torque vectoring and race suspension mean nothing to the very vast majority of potential buyers. So what elements of the FFZero1 does the company intend to integrate into its “future range of clean, intuitive electric vehicles,” which it aims to put on roads by 2017?
For one, the FFZero1 is a “100 percent sustainable, electric, non-polluting vehicle” that still manages to pack a racetrack-worthy punch. While its production car progeny would certainly fall onto the more conservative end of the spectrum, Faraday appears to hold within its grasp the opportunity to develop a high-performance green vehicle that would not come at the expense of power.
“You don’t have to sacrifice anything for being sustainable,” said Richard Kim, the company’s Head of Global Design. Previously, Kim experienced enormous success as the lead designer behind BMW’s exceptional i3 and i8 plug-in hybrid models.
Second, Faraday hopes to incorporate an increasing number of autonomous functions in future production cars, until it arrives at a fully autonomous vehicle.
Finally, like the FFZero1, forthcoming Faraday models will allow drivers to mount their smartphones directly into the steering column, fostering greater connectivity and personalization between user and car.
“When the screens in the car turn on, they can be your home pages,” said Richard Sampson, Faraday’s Head of Research and Development. “If you just turn your phone or TV inside the car, everything will be familiar and is what you want and how you like it.”
The bottom line is that the FFZero1 is a fancy proof of concept—a radical representation of both the scope and spirit of Faraday’s vision—rather than a nod to marketable vehicles to come. The company hoped, perhaps misguidedly, that flexing its muscles and showcasing aesthetic prowess would pique the interest of consumers and solidify its reputation as an entity capable of competing with the likes of Tesla.
If Faraday intends to become a harbinger for global change, however, its engineers will need to translate their space-age concepts into a functional vehicle of superb quality, offered at a price that people can actually afford.
Whether the company can redirect its substantial funding and brainpower into achieving this kind of pragmatism remains to be seen.
All photos courtesy of Faraday Future/AP.