Faraday Future revealed its FFZERO1 Concept in Las Vegas on Monday night. It is a striking artifact that continues to keep the company’s product plans mysterious. This “car of concepts,” as Head of Design Richard Kim called it, is an extreme expression containing select elements that foreshadow the company’s production vehicles.
We now know that Faraday Future (they like to be called FF) can design a theoretical 200+ mph, 1,000 horsepower, single-seat hypercar. Even in a world full of extreme cars, this one looks futuristic. But this is not an attempt to compete with Bugatti, Koenigsegg, or Ascari. It’s an extreme test-bed, right down to the drag reducing, heat-dissipating pair of see-through “aero-tunnels” channeling air directly through the vehicle.
Aero-tunnels may not be a practical feature for production cars, but the main character line running around the circumference of the FFZERO1 apparently is. FF calls it the “UFO” line, and it’s intended to be a subtle signature design theme shared across their future product range. If executed properly, it may act like BMW’s kidney grill or Nissan’s new floating roof. The UFO moniker is intended to be memorable while distancing the company and their cars from the industry. In FF speak: they are not of this world.
One of the company’s core philosophies is designing the car from the inside out. Toward that end, the drive-by-wire asymmetric instrument panel in the FFZERO1 is a preview of what’s to come. A focal point of the instrumentation is the smartphone dock located in the hub of the steering wheel. The intent is to integrate the phone with the car and make the user experience more familiar. Practical safety considerations may intervene in the phone’s placement, but this element should reach production in some form.
Another transferable element of the concept may be its platform. Faraday Future has designed what it terms its Variable Platform Architecture (VPA). FF plans to be a multi-vehicle, single-platform company. The creation of a single platform that can host numerous vehicles is, of course, not new. What may be new is the degree of flexibility claimed in this platform, ranging from the ability to host everything from the FFZERO1 to a luxury sedan or pickup — and everything between.
Faraday Future has been hailed as a Tesla rival, and there are undeniable similarities. Both are based in California and Faraday is led by a clique of Tesla alums. Both companies share an all-electric vision with sights set squarely on autonomous mobility. Each organization is stridently anti-auto establishment in their approach and language. They even share a naming philosophy, seeking to wrap themselves in the names of exotic 19th century inventors.
Aside from Tesla’s obvious head start, a paramount dissimilarity between the companies is Faraday’s embrace of on-demand transportation. Tesla’s direct sales model is an evolution of incumbent dealer distribution networks. Faraday, on the other hand, is targeting a revolution in the ownership user experience. It’s not yet clear how they plan to manage that revolution, but we know it’s central to Faraday Future’s plans. We know more today than we did yesterday about what FF will do, but the company’s future remains opaque.
The FFZERO1 concept reflects the company’s early stage of development and leaves more questions than answers. Yet, the company has racked up tremendous progress and claims to have met every major engineering milestone to date. Continuing to do that will be a significant challenge, as their stated goal is to offer their first production cars in “about 2017.” If nothing else, it will be fascinating to witness the development of this well-resourced newcomer.