Electric cars have had an image makeover in recent years, thanks to the likes of Tesla and its contemporaries. No longer monopolised by cumbersome, overpriced, hybrids driven by cabbies and middle-aged patrons wanting to save on their fuel bills, the electric car market is now something of a 21st century contest of cool.
Big personalities and visionaries like Elon Musk, with their counter-culture ideals and well-tailored suits are bringing an element of trendy, new-age fashion to what was once the dominion of hippies and woolly jumper-wearing Al Gore devotees. As more punters enter the market, keen on wooing the early-adopters and carving a niche, it seems as though Musk has a bit of sleek competition heading his way, with the reveal of Faraday Future’s new FF91.
At the CES 2017 event in Vegas earlier this year, the troubled company sought to allay rumours of their inability to function as a profitable enterprise, and exhibit the wherewithal to build more than the empty shell of a would-be super car. After a lacklustre reveal in early 2016 of the Batmobile-esque FFZERO1, a stationery concept car and accompanying video footage of what it could look like, burning around the track at 1,000 horsepower and over 200mph (which, a year later, is still yet to make an appearance), the company has upped the ante and revealed an actual, driveable vehicle. And boy, she’s a beauty.
Boasting 1,050 horsepower and the grunt to get you from 0 – 60 in as little as 2.39 seconds (that’s faster than any car in production today, according to The Verge), the FF91 is the stuff of legends. If Faraday Future’s claims are to be believed, that is. Releasing details about the car gradually, the start-up manufacturer has, for now at least, given the tech-heads and supercar enthusiasts enough to mull over in lieu of further specifics. The face-recognition entry and ‘FFID’ technology not only negates the need for pesky car keys, but claims to ‘connect’ with the user by learning everything from favourite music to seating preferences, climate control settings and driving route predilections.
“Seamless Entry is our multi-stage welcoming system. Once it securely recognizes your FFID on your phone, it proactively adjusts your custom settings Don’t have your phone?” says the interactive website. “Your face can be the key with our facial recognition technology.”
While the tech integration within the vehicle is certainly set to pique the interest of many a gadget enthusiast, the FF91 provides much to whet the appetite of the design-conscious too. Sleek curves and angular, slim fairings give a respectful nod to the design powerhouses of Porsche and Audi.
Making some big claims about the power and capabilities of their patented engine and drive train, Faraday appear to cover all their bases—sacrificing neither street appeal, functionality or efficiency in the development of their flagship machine.
“The all-electric powertrain is where our first patent resides: the efficient and compact FF Echelon Inverter. Our standard multi-motor configuration channels greater torque more directly and quickly to each wheel. You not only enjoy incomparable all-wheel drive, but also faster-than-gravity acceleration boosted by over 1,000 horsepower.”
For a lucky few who have had a chance to take a ride in the passenger seat of this exciting piece of engineering history, hyperbole was overshadowed by sheer delight.
“As the electrically powered propulsion pushed me back into the bucket seat,” says The Verge’s Andrew J Hawkins “I couldn’t help but let out an involuntary squeal as my brain tried and failed to process the speed. Holy shit, was that fast.”
The Lidar (integrated radar and laser technology) system creates a 360° picture of the surrounds, while the driverless valet allows users to park the car using a smartphone. The smartphone is at the centre of Faraday’s ‘connect’ concept, putting the liberal cache of techy features at user’s fingertips and integrating seamlessly into the ubiquitous handheld devices which are already integral to our everyday lives. After a couple of hiccups during testing at the CES event, attendees were impressed with the Faraday offering, if still a little cautious. One former FF executive spoke with Hawkins about the car.
“The public will love the futuristic design and likely accept their vision for the future… but I believe there will be some head scratching. Primarily around the sheer size of the vehicle, all of the screens and the [optional] wine cellar. And if price gets mentioned, the public will freak.”
The FF91 is certainly targeting the higher end of the market, with rumours of a USD$100,000 plus price point. While this is out of reach for many punters, it’s clear that Faraday are packing a punch with features well beyond that of your dime-a-dozen Prius, or even the Model 3 at the bottom rung of the Tesla warehouse (at USD$35,000). The horsepower, tech inclusions and design all wave the flag at the cashed-up echelons of the market, competing with the likes of Cayenne and Q7 and of course the Tesla Model X.
Despite the detractors and naysayers (and several unhappy and, as yet, unpaid investors), Faraday are confident of keen interest from buyers and expect to be pumping out a production line of FF91s as soon as early 2018. Interested parties, critics and enthusiasts alike, are yet to see if they can live up to the not insignificant chest-beating and deliver on their promises. One thing is for certain, however—there is an ever-growing and zealous interest in the future of smart, sleek, electric vehicles. Appealing to tech-heads, renewable energy enthusiasts, conscientious consumers and petrol heads alike, the allure of these cars of the future is multi-faceted enough to represent real opportunity for success.
Whether or not Faraday are savvy enough, financially, to make a go of things, there are certainly more players in the field who are primed for market penetration. While Elon Musk may not yet be quivering in his boots, there’s no denying that these cars are becoming more accessible, more reliable, and more appealing to the wider public. It seems as though the geeks really shall inherit the Earth. And they’ll be picking up your girlfriends in their electric cars while they do it.