The show-stopping car that stopped in the middle of the show.
12 months of disappointment, dysfunction, mismanagement, and lawsuits later, new electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer Faraday Future has pulled the wraps off its first production car, billed FF91. The FF91 is a “new species” of EV, offering “industry leading” technology, packed with “industry-first” features, or so they would like you to believe.
After prattling on for an age about how the car will “reformat” and “disrupt” everything, the FF91 crawled onto stage at a pace hitherto unknown to science, a far cry from the impressive acceleration performance that FF has been so boastful about in the past. The reveal event displayed no less than three FF91 vehicles, though only one looked remotely production ready. But we’ll put our skepticism aside for a moment to talk about the car itself.
The FF91 is claimed to feature “a unique collection of intelligent internet features,” never before seen in a production car. Through the reveal event (that you can catch here), not many of these features were discussed, sans an app and in-car high-speed broadband. Reservations are open now, at US$5,000 a pop (or just under $7,000), which FF is quick to distinguish as “fully refundable.”
We’ll talk about what FF wants us to talk about: The power. The FF91 packs a 130kWh battery pack built into the floorpan, as a part of FF’s Variable Platform Architecture (or VPA). Those batteries, paired with a “multi-motor setup” delivers a peak of 783kW, with torque at an unbelievable 1,800Nm. The century sprint is completed in a (claimed) 2.39-seconds, which shames the current “quickest production car in the world,” the Tesla Model S P100D, by one tenth of a second.
Thanks to what the company claims is the densest, most efficient battery technology in the industry (thanks to partners LG Chem), the FF91 boasts a range of over 700km on a single charge (based on New European Driving Cycle testing). The batteries themselves can utilise a 150kW fast charger (where available), but the cars will be supplied with a 240V home charger, capable of juicing up the FF91 from 50% to full in under 4.5-hours.
The exterior of the FF91 is “driven by aerodynamics.” We guessed as much, with all angles and creases working together to create a sleek fastback look. The “signature UFO line,” running the whole width of the entire car, helps to make the crossover hunker down visually, working together with full-width front and rear lighting elements to emphasise the girth of the new EV. The lights themselves (there are even some on the rocker panels) are ‘intelligent,’ featuring lighting sequences to interact with the world around it, and it comes with welcome sequences whenever owners approach the vehicle.
The FF91 works out approaching owners not with a traditional proximity key, because that’s too old hat. No, the FF91 features facial recognition technology, which works in conjunction with a paired smartphone and an FFID registration (seriously, you have to log-in to your Faraday Future car), to welcome, unlock, and configure itself for every individual and driver. These preferences include interior setups, driving modes, climate settings, and so on.
The interior of the FF91 is the biggest mystery of all. An earlier article explained that due to a lawsuit, Faraday Future would be unable to bundle its “gravity-defying,” “NASA-inspired” seats, designed by incensed manufacturer Futuris. This hasn’t stopped FF from being boastful though, harping on about “industry-leading rear-seat reclining angles,” offering massage, heating, and cooling functions. The glass that surrounds the cockpit (roof included) are not just glass, but ‘Polymer Dispersed Liquid Crystal’ (PDLC) glass, operated by touching the glass itself, and can brighten or darken all panels or individual panels based on situational requirements.
No (purported) car of the future can hit the market without autonomous driving technology, and the FF91 doesn’t seem to disappoint. Over 30 different sensors, cameras, and radar systems work together to give the FF91 “unprecedented” driving autonomy, with “industry-leading” computer power employed to extract collected data and make “correct driving decisions.” The advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) in the FF91 also allow it to offer a ‘Driverless Valet’ feature, the first of its kind, which allows the FF91 to be left to its own devices to find a parking space.
The app is, to us, the most ‘connected’ part of the whole affair. Called ‘FFCTRL’, the app allows the FF91 to park itself as well as bring itself back to the driver at a scheduled time and location. Presently, these features are usable only in private parking lots and on private roads, but FF believes that once the legislation is in place, these features will be available for FF91 owners anywhere, anytime.
Anytime except when it matters that is, as a live demonstration of the ‘Driverless Valet’ at the launch, in front of the media and an expectant crowd, jammed suddenly after the firm’s “friend” Jia Yueting alighted from a prototype FF91. The car was described as “lazy,” although ‘unfinished’ and ‘half-cocked’ were the words that came to our minds. After a developer stepped into and out of the recalcitrant prototype (on a darkened stage, like we couldn’t see it), the FF91 ‘parked itself’ by moving about 20-feet before coming to a halt again, at (allegedly) its intended display point.
It was clarified to the press that the “lazy” FF91 was not remote controlled, and its inability to function properly was down to “steel structure” in the roof of the building, which purportedly blocks signals.
Faraday Future’s senior vice president of R&D and engineering Nick Sampson excitedly announced that the FF91 is now open for reservations, with an exclusive upgrade to a limited-run ‘Alliance Edition’ for the first 300 bookings. This upgrade option will be made available in March, with the car itself slated for deliveries in 2018. Reservations for the “disruptive” FF91 can be made at Faraday Future’s official website.
Presently, critics and observers are still skeptical about FF’s capabilities. We have covered countless reports and updates from the brand, from the stalled construction of its billion-dollar Nevada plant (which it claims to be “on track”), commentary on the firm’s financial health, and more recently, the lawsuit from seat-makers Futuris regarding missed payments for its designs. With embattled Chinese billionaire Jia Yueting making an appearance (and an appalling speech) at the launch (and his involvement with Faraday still unconfirmed), it’s hard to tell if FF is driving itself into tomorrow, or into the ground.
Oh, scratch that. It doesn’t really drive.
Stay tuned to CarShowroom, as we bring you more coverage of Faraday Future in the, uh, future.