If you wanted to create a buzz in today’s auto industry, taking the Tesla route would be the way to go. High-tech electric vehicles offer hope for solutions to complex mobility and environmental problems. Faraday Future (FF), a startup promising a “revolution” in the transportation space, appears headed in this same direction with its zero-emissions solution promised for 2017, putting the emphasis on connectivity in its automobiles. Even more intriguing is the future automaker’s plan to provide modern “mobility for all.”
The story begins with an admission by a Faraday Future spokesperson (to VentureBeat) that keeping the details under wraps is the strategy of choice for the Gardena-based company. What we know is the company is shopping for a place to park a manufacturing plant (California, Texas, Nevada, Georgia, and Louisiana were mentioned) and is being aggressive in its effort to create buzz.
As for reasons to take the company seriously, start with Tesla’s former top engineer, Nick Sampson, who is reported to be the FF product engineer. Additionally, the BMW i8 concept designer and another design specialist from Lamborghini and Ferrari are on board, according to various sources.
Faraday’s disclosures get murkier from there. The company website could not be vaguer, other than the call for the world’s top talent on its “Careers” page, the most detailed part of the website. Besides the photo of futuristic vehicle inside a swank, minimalist garage structure, we have a glimpse into a car’s body via Twitter.
— Faraday Future (@FaradayFuture) July 13, 2015
Despite the expensive feel to the model car and home, FF promises “clean, connected, smart mobility for all.” The suggestion of a mass-market approach and the launch date of 2017 are bound to remind industry watchers of the Tesla Model 3 (and Chevrolet Bolt) that are due around the same time. However, the most intriguing thing is Faraday Future’s claim it is reimagining “ownership” as well as transportation.
Of the many innovations Tesla has brought to the industry — in design, performance, sales model, and personalization — the automaker has not touched the concept of mass mobility and alternative ownership. The Model S is a high-tech, luxury sedan for wealthy buyers who very much want to keep the reins on their custom EVs, and the business model is working.
However, Tesla’s larger mission does involves reaching the masses with its Model 3 sedan, expected to go 200 miles on a charge and cost around $35,000 once it arrives as a concept and then as a production vehicle. (Its delivery date is expected in 2017.) Anyone who has tried managing life with a short-range electric vehicle in a city like New York or Philadelphia can attest to the challenges to plug-in vehicle ownership, but electric vehicles in the city are the only hope to reducing emissions on any substantial level.
Many of the obstacles are tech-related. Faraday Future would certainly have an opening in this space if the automaker can produce a competitive EV that solves the problems of range and cost while appealing to drivers aesthetically. If indeed FF is headed down a road where the masses have access to smart mobility without tailpipe emissions, the company will have a huge audience. It will just have to compete with Tesla (and other automakers) if it ever gets that far.
Follow Eric on Twitter @EricSchaalNY