Faraday Future Underwhelms At Consumer Electronics Show


Faraday Future has been ratcheting up expectations for the past few months. The secretive electric car start-up from Southern California has been hinting that its first prototype would make us start thinking about cars in a whole new way. In a recent teaser video, it asked “What if the back seat was the new front seat?” and “What if all those cars parked in driveways had more interesting lives?”

Faraday Future

At 8:00 pm Pacific time on Monday, January 4, it finally pulled the wraps off its FFZero1 to reveal…..a single seat jet fighter kind of a car with a swallow tail, clear plastic cockpit cover, 4 electric motors, 1000 horsepower and a top speed of 200 miles an hour. Wait, what? This is the groundbreaking, paradigm shattering, never seen anything like it before car that will make Elon Musk quake in his boots?

The motoring press gave a collective shrug, as if to ask, “Is this all you got?” The headlines are filled with such adjectives as “ridiculous,” “bizarre,” and “wild.” Is this what Chinese billionaire Jia Yeutang spent his money on? Surely the company isn’t spending a billion dollars to construct a factory in North Las Vegas to build something like this, are they? That would be insane. There is virtually no market for this car.

Actually, the answer is “No.” This is just a prototype, a car designed to let the world know the wonders Faraday Future is capable of. In fact, this car doesn’t even run. The only way to drive it is on a virtual test track back at company headquarters. Here’s a video of what that looks like.

So what’s the big deal about Faraday Future? For one, it doesn’t actually plan to sell to private customers. It says the chassis underneath the FFZero1 is fully customizable and can be used to produce sports cars, sedans, SUVs and pickup trucks. Customers will simply choose what kind of vehicle they want today and summon one to the front door. It could be a jaunty roadster on a sunny summer day or a pickup truck to haul building materials in.

The underlying platform features what the company calls Variable Platform Architecture. “That platform is done on a very modular and flexible basis such that we can change the size of the platform,” says Nick Sampson, a senior VP in charge of R&D and engineering told The Verge. “We can change the number and power of the drive systems. We can change the physical size and electrical size of the battery packs, so we can get bigger and larger packs and smaller packs both on the electrical size and physical size because of the modularity of how the battery architecture is being done, which is unique compared to anybody else in the industry. The underlying story is all about the platform that’s being built.” In other words, pay no attention to the goofy time machine you see here. We are going to build really terrific cars — in about 4 years or so.

Faraday FutureAnd what does Jia Yeutang get for his billion dollar investment? Control over the video screen that will sit in the center of every Faraday Future car ever built. People will have a lot of time on their hands while they are being driven to and fro by the self driving cars of the future. Heaven forefend they be bored for one millisecond. Yeutang will make his money delivering what is known as “content” to all those video screens. He already is in the content business in his home country, where his company is known as “the Netflix of China.”

Faraday Future will certainly be disappointed in the lack of excitement and buzz generated at CES. But as one person who wrote a comment online said succinctly, “Nothing to see here. Move along.”

About the Author

I have been a car nut since the days when Rob Walker and Henry N. Manney, III graced the pages of Road & Track. Today, I use my trusty Miata for TSD rallies and occasional track days at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. If it moves on wheels, I’m interested in it. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.

  • Raphael Sturm

    Most disappointing reveal ever. The only interesting part was the modular platform, but I guess since VW has plans for that already and it makes sense for Tesla to adopt something like that, too. They won’t be the first to build it, if even to think it. And instead of showing us a big SUV, a midsize sedan and a small hatchback all on the same platform. To demonstrate how versatile their platform is, they designed the only car no one will ever summon. A one seater hypercar, that won’t be road legal and doesn’t even fit in their one to three motor vision, much less adopts any of the thoughts they must have had when they were designing the platform. And with that FF, has become a joke to me.

    • Steve Hanley

      So we can put you in the “Unimpressed” column. Raphael? Along with most of the rest of the world? ; – )

      • Raphael Sturm

        Unimpressed almost seems to kind…

      • Eco Logical

        I’m impressed … by the Variable Platform Architecture. The one seat racing body is immaterial, concept car bodies are almost never put into production anyway. The key thing about the VPA is the wheelbase, battery size, and front/rear overhang are all variable making it possible to use the same (mass-produced, low-cost) platform for a compact car, van, truck, bus, or even a motorhome!

        • Steve Hanley

          Yes, that in and of itself may be a big step forward for car manufacturing. We shall see, eh?

          On the other hand, Volkswagen and others have been doing similar things for years. Building multiple vehicles on standard chassis is not that novel an idea, In fact, companies have to do it to make a profit.

          • zn

            Also, I remember Elon Musk discussing the importance of innovation in manufacturing, saying something like ‘it’s not just about designing a cool car, it’s about designing the machine that builds the car’. Faraday poached a few Tesla staff, so I wouldn’t be shocked if some of those ideas found their way into this car.

          • Steve Hanley

            Good point. If memory serves, Nicholas Sampson, the lead engineer for FF, was directly involved in readying the Model S for production.

            Is the pupil now the master, or will Tesla make the production line for the Model 3 even more innovative than the S/X line? It has already indicated the 3 chassis will be capable of several variations. Perhaps a pickup with falcon wing doors is in the offing? ; – )

        • MarkSalerno


          • Eco Logical

            Hopeful 😉

    • Jim Smith

      agree. is FF some kind of joke?

      • t_

        They are rather some kind of marketing – guru – wannabes. Or I don’t know what exactly. I was thinking of VW in the moment I saw “modular platform” And actually even VW were not the first ones tho think of it. They were the first to make it in a mainstream production factory.

        So, the idea is nice. We’ll see. When you use one and the same part for different machines it is getting interesting.

        Until now the single “forward looking” thing is that they are aiming economies of scale. Good for them. What’s in for the clients?

  • Dennis van der Pool

    It would be nice if they mentioned something useful for possible future consumers. After 45 minutes I had something like “ok, nice tech, but what’s in it for me?”

    I’m still waiting eagerly for Tesla Model 3 reveal in March.

  • partyzant

    In fact, this car doesn’t even run. The only way to drive it is on a virtual test track… the essence of vaporware…