1000 hp Electric Car: The Future or the End of Driving as we Know It
Faraday Future, an 18 month old automobile company that has promised to change the industry, chose the CES show in Las Vegas to unveil its first concept car the FFZERO1. The WOW factor was over the top but once you got past the exotic appearance you have to ask yourself “just what are they trying to do?”
Faraday Future is not a tuner shop, it is a well-financed auto company meant to compete with Tesla or at least that’s the common perception. It is staffed with automotive pros including Nick Sampson, Dag Reckhory and Tom Wessner all former C level executives at Tesla and Richard Kim who designed the i3 and i8 for BMW. They’ve got money, lots of money thanks to their relationship with China’s LeTV (China’s Netflix on steroids). They are building a billion dollar factory outside of Las Vegas.
So with all this talent and financial strength, why did they roll out a 1,000 hp electric car that seats one?
Even Batman Needed Robin Sometimes
This sleek carbon fiber design most closely resembles the Batmobile with its deep grill scoops and rear center fin. It has no doors. The canopy, yes canopy not roof, raises much like a fighter jet and that’s how the pilot…er driver enters the pristine white cockpit.
When the driver settles in he’s in a seat that is at a 450 angle to the floor and he grips a steering wheel that looks a lot like the steering yoke on a Gulfstream executive jet. Oh and there’s a helmet involved that can provide water and oxygen should the driver feel faint or thirsty?
This is definitely a car for the track. You will not be doing the daily commute in this baby.
- The car achieves AWD by having 4 electric motors, one for each wheel.
- Those motors are powered by a “string” of batteries than can generate 1,000 hp.
- It’s estimated that the car will go 0 to 60 in less than 3 seconds and reach a top speed of 200 mph!
Its acceleration and top speed are estimated because this car hasn’t gone anywhere under its own power. The concept car is just that; a physical manifestation of an idea. There is no prototype and according to the head designer, if there ever is a production model it will be made in very limited numbers.
So why tease the public with a car that will probably never be built?
Showcasing the Variable Platform Architecture (VPA)
As it turns out the FFZERO1 is the “sizzle” selling Farber Future’s “bacon” which is their variable platform architecture. According to the company, they could pull the body off their FFZERO1, remove a couple of motors and a battery or two to reduce weight, stretch the chassis using adjustable rails in the frame and drop a body configured for a crossover with three row seating.
Using the same frame for multiple models is nothing new, Ford and Honda have been doing it for decades. However, FF claims that it can create a new model much faster than traditional methods because of their “plug and play” motors (the chassis can accommodate 1 to 4 motors) and the use of a “multiple string” battery power source instead of one large battery. The FFZERO1 went from a doodle on Nick Sampson’s desk to a concept car in 9 months.
Being faster is a good thing but it’s not exactly industry changing.
The China Connection
Faraday Future is as much a technology company as it is an auto manufacturer. They believe that the time is right to view mobility (not transportation but mobility) differently. They frequently point to Apple’s iPhone and how it “changed” how the world uses a cell phone. Actual phone calls are the least utilized function on the smart phone bowing to texts, photos, videos, directions and endless information both visually and audibly.
User: Siri what’s up with Faraday Future?
Siri: I believe it is after my job.
And Siri may be right. While Faraday Future is obviously committed to clean energy, sustainable materials, and environmentally responsible design and manufacturing processes, there may be stronger incentives for wanting to change the way mobility is viewed.
The money behind this company comes from the giant Chinese entertainment company LeTV who is involved in multiple businesses including Internet TV, video production and distribution, smart gadgets and large-screen applications to e-commerce, eco-agriculture and Internet-linked electric cars, which were announced in late 2014.
They also have introduced four double SIM models of their own smartphone. They are the first to produce a smartphone with USB Type-C ports.
This is Where it Gets Weird
Let’s go back to the FFZERO1 for a moment. You can’t drive this thing without a smartphone. To make this truly a customized ride, all of the tuning options are set by an application. You can determine the suspension and a myriad of other features and shift them on the fly using the app. In the center of the yoke-like steering wheel is a convenient slot for your smartphone which will be as important as the key (if there is one) in starting and running the 1000 hp electric car.
There is already a ton of autonomous technology aboard the FFZERO1 and it’s obvious that FF is counting on the widespread use of self-driving cars (despite the huge infrastructure obstacles). They are also committed to make “driving” a seamless experience in the driver’s life meaning he or she will not be entering an environment that denies them of the information they so eagerly consume when their eyes are on the road.
And that brings us back to LeTV one of the world’s largest producers of entertainment content. Could it be that LeTV views Faraday Future cars as simply another distribution channel for their content? Google did it by creating their own phone giving them a way to tap into a mobile market they were missing out on.
Is that LeTV’s end game? Is this sleek, futuristic racecar just a tease to promote a brand whose ultimate objective is to bring you movies and commercials while you drive? In 5 to 7 years will “sports car” drivers not be discussing handling and exhaust tone but rather how many ESPN channels they can get on their infotainment display?
We hope not but we are pretty sure buggy whip manufacturers went through the same angst over the horseless carriage.