Faraday Future’s vision of tomorrow is not the future we were expecting. Based on the company’s utopian teaser video, we were prepared for a sexier take on Google’s koala pod. A Tesla Model S fighter wouldn’t have surprised us, either, given all of the hype comparing Faraday Future with Silicon Valley’s darling Tesla. Or maybe the company would launch with a sleek-but-sensible sports car.
Among the long list of possibilities, though, we never predicted something as radical as the Faraday Future FFZERO1 concept, a fully electric, single-seat supercar with no doors. The California startup teases that “if developed for limited production,” the FFZERO1 will be good for more than 1000 horsepower, a top speed of more than 200 mph, and a zero-to-60 time of less than three seconds.
We wouldn’t bet on any of that becoming a reality, though. Unveiled under the dazzling glow of the Las Vegas strip and ahead of the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show, an event where no one remembers the grand claims made just 12 months earlier, the FFZERO1 reminds us of concept cars from another era, when show cars were fully divorced from production realities. We were convinced that world of pure automotive fantasy had been killed off by bankruptcies, massive recalls, unfathomable scandals, and a global recession. Now we just wish we were 10 years old again so we could fully appreciate the bizarre FFZERO1 track car.
Feeding our skepticism for a production car is the fact that details on the hardware are scarce. Aside from the performance claims, Faraday only says that four electric motors drive the wheels. There are, however, plenty of details on the more fanciful elements. The FFZERO1’s pilot enters the vehicle through a canopy that tips open like that of a fighter jet. Inside, the single seat cradles the driver at a 45-degree angle while the Halo Safety System can deliver oxygen and water to the driver through a helmet. The FFZERO1 also packs autonomous-driving capability and a smartphone integrated into the center of the steering wheel if lapping the car around a racetrack becomes too tedious.
Squint Hard Enough and You Might See a Production Car
If you can see through the vapor surrounding the FFZERO1, there are hints at production cars. It is based on the brand’s Variable Platform Architecture, a foundation that Faraday Future says will serve under all of its future vehicles. The company describes the VPA as a “skateboard-style” platform that can be stretched into a wide range of shapes and sizes, but Faraday doesn’t offer any hint as to whether it’s thinking of producing small crossovers or sports cars or sedans or just triangles with four wheels. Faraday also says the architecture can accommodate anywhere from one to three motors (never mind that the FFZERO1 sports four motors) driving the front wheels, the rear wheels, or all four wheels.
Much like Tesla’s Model S and Model X, the batteries are centrally located below the floor of the VPA. Faraday describes the electricity storage as “strings of batteries, which can be more easily replaced or changed than a single battery.” Without more detail, we’re left guessing as to what that really means, but some of the renderings suggest that the company will use multiple smaller battery packs rather than one massive pack.
If you find it hard to imagine the shape of the FFZERO1 translating into a practical, legal, or marketable car, your imagination is simply too narrow. Faraday describes the beltline as a “soon-to-be signature UFO line” that is “intended to give the sense that this vehicle is not completely of this world.”
A 1000-hp Stream to Your Eyeballs
In Vegas, Faraday Future also acknowledged a formal connection with LeTV, often described as the Netflix of China and almost certainly the major financial force behind the hopeful automaker. A partnership with the streaming-video provider will fulfill LeTV’s “six screens, one cloud” mantra, which neatly captures the company’s goal to feed your eyeballs via TVs, smartphones, tablets, PCs, theater screens, and, soon, the car. It’s a bit like Google’s strategy. The tech giant built a smartphone operating system so its ads can follow you wherever you go. Faraday Future will build cars so LeTV can beam Full House reruns and Taco Bell commercials into your daily commute. The future isn’t what we were expecting.