Talk about a flight of fancy. Faraday Future Inc., the electric vehicle startup backed by Chinese Internet billionaire Jia Yueting, showed a concept car that would probably struggle to gain mass acceptance even if produced.
For starters, the FFZero1 concept car, shown Monday for the first time in Las Vegas before the Consumer Electronics Show this week, has but one seat. The car’s space-age style white cockpit was inspired by NASA research and has oxygen and water fed to the driver’s helmet. If Faraday built this car, it would have the equivalent of 1,000 horsepower, not exactly what one drives to pick up the kids.
While this won’t be the electric-drive car they build in 2017 to reach the masses, it is supposed to signal that Faraday takes a futuristic view and designs cars packed with connectivity and technology that are just as much a part of the sales pitch as style and transportation. The company didn’t elaborate on the production car that will first roll off the assembly line of its $1 billion factory north of Las Vegas in 2017.
"We’re a forward-thinking company focused on the future of mobility, but we also share a passion for driving and performance,” said Nick Sampson, senior vice president of research and product development for Faraday. “On our platform, electric vehicles will not only deliver on sustainability, but will be seamlessly connected and exhilarating to drive.”
Sampson said the first car Faraday produces will definitely be a premium-priced car and could be a sedan or a sport utility vehicle.
The black-and-silver race car that Faraday showed is purely a concept that shows the kind of styling that future models will wear, said Faraday chief designer Richard Kim. “It’s a serious statement and it showcases what Faraday Future is about,” Kim said.
A smartphone is embedded into the steering wheel of the FFZero1 so the driver can access anything he needs on the Internet. Since the concept is designed with autonomous driving in mind, Faraday wants to give drivers images, data and anything else they want from the Web.
That would yield Faraday another source of revenue. The company is backed by Jia, who is the founder of Leshi Internet Information & Technology, or Letv, which sells Internet-based movies and entertainment content and services. Faraday said the partnership with Letv will enable the automaker to sell Internet content to drivers.
Faraday promises a breakthrough in automaking as well. The FFZero1 is built on a large skateboard chassis that houses the battery, with an electric motor at each wheel. This allows Faraday to easily change the size and shape to make a one-seat hot rod like the FFZero1 or more mundane vehicles like a sedan or sport utility vehicle. Faraday will be able to build several different models at the same factory, the company said.
This isn’t the first time a company has toyed with a skateboard concept. Before its bankruptcy, General Motors Corp. had its Autonomy concept, a large skateboard that housed the hydrogen tanks and fuel-cell system for its futuristic models. That one never made it past the auto show circuit as cash-strapped GM went into bankruptcy in 2009.