Posted 12/23/15 in News by Steve
Startup EV manufacturer Faraday Future unveiled a concept electric vehicle at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January. The LA-based company says they will have a production car available in 2017. Details about the production model are limited, but rumors are that company's first production vehicle - completely different than the concept shown - will be a crossover SUV that would be a rival to the Tesla Model X.
Founded in 2014, the company has been working hard behind the scenes, without a lot of mainstream press, prepping to manufacture their new vehicle. The only official release is the teaser image and a website announcing the CES unveiling, but in interviews given by company executives, there have been hints dropped that the vehicle is intended to surpass Tesla in its use of technology.
At last year's Los Angeles Auto Show, Faraday Future's Head of Design Richard Kim, who previously designed the BMW i3 and i8, noted that he and his team envision a car that brings the most advanced consumer tech to automobiles. He referenced autonomous driving but said there were less complicated things that could be implemented immediately. He mentioned smart thermostats like the Nest, aromatherapy, improved ergonomics and internet connectivity. He said he envisioned a commute where a user could get work done or watch a movie. Ultimately the goal is to allow a user to relax and disconnect from the commute.
Besides the technology to be featured inside the car, Faraday Future's plans go beyond being a car manufacturer. The company wants to disrupt the status quo of car ownership.
In a Bloomberg interview from November 2015, Nick Sampson, Senior Vice President of Research and Development, compared Faraday Future's business model to that of a smartphone maker. "The revenue starts once you get the device in the owners’ hands. We’re looking at subscriptions and apps and other opportunities."
In the same interview, Sampson said “Our business model is not based around moving a car out of the dealer.” Some believe that means the company's idea of car ownership may not actually involve owning the car at all.
Along with Nick Sampson, who supervised vehicle and chassis engineering for the Tesla Model S, Faraday Future has acquired other high-level talent including Dag Reckhorn, Alan Cherry, and Tom Wessner who were also senior managers at Tesla. The earlier-mentioned Head of Design Richard Kim manages a team of designers hailing from BMW, Audi, Ferrari and Lamborghini.
One of Faraday Future's key backers is Chinese billionaire Jia Yueting. He runs a technology company called Letv, which is like a Chinese version of Netflix. The company has previously hinted at introducing new connectivity technologies for cars. One of Letv’s partners is Aston Martin. Aston Martin and Letv signed a memorandum of understanding to develop connected technologies and electric vehicles in December 2015. And, although there has been no confirmation, it was rumored Faraday Future was working with Apple.
Having a model available for consumers in 2017 is an ambitious plan. It appears the company has the backing needed. Faraday Future says they already employ more than 500 people worldwide. In early December 2015, the company signed a deal to invest $1 billion in a new factory in North Las Vegas. In late December 2015, the state of Nevada announced they will offer $215 million in tax credits and abatements along with $120 million in public financing for infrastructure improvements at the underdeveloped industrial park in North Las Vegas.