Faraday Future FF 91 Fancily Flails for Journalists at Monterey
Faraday Future was keen to show off its EV crossover during high-profile events at Pebble Beach a couple weeks ago. Nearly ready for production, Faraday says customers who have ordered the FF 91 could receive their vehicles by end of year. Given the CUV is so far along in its development, journalists were allowed to ride along in the super luxurious (and expensive) FF 91. Unfortunately, it didn’t go well.
Monterey, California is the annual host of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. It’s where the wealthiest car lovers from America and beyond gather to show off their facelifts and give trophies to multi-million dollar antique cars that can’t be touched and shouldn’t really be driven. The Concours is but one of several events during Monterey Car Week, a tradition that evolved from a single car race in Monterey in the Fifties.
It was in this lush, luxurious setting that Faraday Future decided to give journalists seat time in the FF 91 (pronounced nine-one, not ninety one). Faraday makes some big claims for its high-end crossover, which will have a base price of $182,000 at debut. For that money, buyers will experience a well-made, four-seat EV crossover with a very low ride height, a lengthened, bulbous shape, and a profile similar to a DayQuil gelcap. Faraday calls the design “future-forward.” The target customer is not the common CUV buyer, but those who want a luxurious passenger-oriented four-seat chauffeured limo.
The FF 91 rides on Faraday’s modular platform which they call VPA, or Variable Platform Architecture. Faraday has patented a new invention to power its VPA vehicles, the FF Echelon Inverter. An interesting bit of technology, the inverter differs from those used in other EVs. Faraday’s is a ground-up design with a fewer number of required transistors and less complex componentry.
Faraday says the design has greater stability, is more dependable, and less expensive to make. The company claims the inverter allows for a new level of power density, which means it’s able to transform energy in a more efficient way and take up less space doing so. The Echelon Inverter reaches between 20 and 30 percent greater power density than inverters in EV competition.
Faraday made sure to design their inverter to be future-proof, as it’s able to manage power levels far greater than any EV presently on the market. They patented the inverter in 2016, and its usage in the FF 91 is in conjunction with the vehicle’s three electric motors. Combined, Faraday says the FF 91 has 1,050 horsepower, and the crossover reaches 60 miles per hour in 2.39 seconds.
Blistering performance, then. The FF 91 also promises over 300 miles of theoretical range per charge. That’s slightly less than the 348 miles of range provided by the closest competition, the Tesla Model X. And of course the Model X has already been on sale for eight years (time flies)!
Faraday intends to provide a more personal experience than Tesla, by including AI in all its vehicles. The FF 91 works with a customer’s Faraday Future profile (FFID), which tracks preferences for driving and overall content selections. The crossover recognizes an approaching driver, and then adjusts itself to suit. The company says “...the more you use the FF 91, the smarter about you it becomes, delivering a truly bespoke experience.” Ever seen Black Mirror?
The FF 91 parked in Monterey attracted quite a bit of attention from onlookers who wanted a peek inside the Faraday. Unfortunately there are no exterior door handles on its coach-style doors, as door operation happens via key proximity or the crossover’s accompanying app with its FFID. Hopefully the company has addressed the need for emergency outside access from a non-Faraday owner, say in a crash situation.
A journalist from Forbes was on-hand at the parking lot of Pebble Beach, where the Faraday experience began. The company brought two examples of the FF 91, one of which was used for test drives. Journalists were not allowed to drive the pre-production 91, and instead rode along as passengers. Issues began as soon as entry was granted into the luxurious interior.
Screens abound in the FF 91, and include a large central tablet that’s roughly the size of the order kiosk at a McDonald’s. There are also screens in the door panels that replace buttons normally found in that area. The front passenger is granted an additional screen for entertainment purposes or to make video conference calls.
Gauges are displayed on another screen for the driver, and the central rearview mirror is a screen. The rear has similar door panel screens, and includes another larger screen attached to the rear center console. There’s another screen spanning across the ceiling for rear seat passengers. That screen is movable for rear visibility purposes, but the journalist found when she attempted to move it that operation caused a lot of grinding noises. There was also a moment where the screen stopped moving entirely.
Rear seats are of the reclining variety, and Faraday advertises they’re zero gravity and designed to NASA Neutral Body Posture specifications. Unfortunately on the day of the test, the posture specified was Nap Time: The FF 91’s rear seats were in two different states of heavy recline. Seat settings were found on the front central touchscreen, but it turned out neither seat adjustment was functional.
All the aforementioned touchscreens are Android-powered underneath, but Faraday put their own programming on top like many manufacturers. Journalists attempted to use a few common Android voice commands, but the system was unresponsive. Doors were supposed to open via voice command, but the touch screen ended up being the only way to make the doors work.
Journalists were taken on a short driving loop near the golf course, but copious high-dollar traffic generally limited the experience. On one open stretch the driver took an opportunity to punch it, but the FF 91 felt much less than capable of its claimed 2.39 seconds to 60. Uh oh. Faraday won’t comment on its engine arrangements beyond the claimed stats on the company website.
Supposedly, all kinks will be worked out in the final quarter of the year. In June, the company CEO said he expected to build 400 cars by the end of 2022. And that timeline does track with what the company stated in late July.
However, that same paper (a filing with the SEC) included a more concerning bit too: “The company needs additional cash to commercially launch the FF 91 and is currently seeking to raise additional capital to fund its operations through December 31, 2022." Hopefully that capital will get the seat buttons working again.
[Images: Faraday Future]
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Wheatridger on Sep 08, 2022
How do you provide passenger restraint for a fully reclined passenger? I can imagine a conventional shoulder belt could rip their head off. An airbag on the back of the front seat wouldn't help, and I don't see any on the glass roof. A racing-style antisubmarine strap might work, but it's awkward at best and probably wouldn't be used.
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