In recent years, one of the hottest debates in tech has been around driverless and electric cars and how they will impact the world. Little is said about how they are going to work business-wise, though. There is one particular player in the electric vehicle industry that has been mysterious about its plans in the market, but claimed they will change driver experience for good. The company’s name is Faraday Future (FF), a US based company financially backed by a Chinese entrepreneur.
The interest around the company appeared after it introduced its first concept vehicle, the single seat FFZERO1, at the November 2016 Consumer Electronics show. The company chose an interesting approach when it first revealed itself too. Often, startups are eager to throw themselves into the market, with numerous presentations and Q&As happening on their plans and strategy. With FF the situation is completely different. Being new to the market, it's keeping it’s cards close to its chest, but creating an image of a company with an established reputation. But for the time-being, all we have is a snapshot of what they are trying to achieve.
When the audience first saw the FFZERO1, there was a mixed reaction. Going from secretive to flashy can drive a lot of criticism, but the audience demonstrated a warm welcome to the concept's design, but with some confusion given the lack of communication over future plans. Some people find it hard to understand why FF is not being transparent about its future plans and how it's going to communicate with the customers. However, what the audience may be missing is that FF's main focus is not on the cars themselves, but the way those cars are created. They are utilizing mind-blowing engineering and the inside of the vehicles looks like LEGO both in terms of aesthetics and customization capabilities.
For development of the car the company use their Variable Platform Architecture (VPA). It consists of several parts working off a central battery module. The power is stored in compact battery blocks which are easily stackable, and it allows them to be quickly replaced if needed. Stacked into groups of 6, they are arranged into strings. By adding or removing a battery string, a vehicle's size, shape, weight, power output and travel range can be adjusted. Variation of strings allows construction of sedans, SUVs or high-performance race vehicles. FF also uses a 3D printing technology to create the vehicle's parts and Virtual Reality for modelling and design.
If the cars are driverless, the company is not. The person who makes it happen financially and ideologically is Jia Yueting, the founder of the Chinese version of Netflix - LeTV, which is one of the largest online video companies in China. The entrepreneur has interests in many different fields and has already had success in mobile technology and is now trying electric vehicles. At the moment, Faraday Future is creating the environment for its future products. For instance, it has purchased a 900-acre piece of land for building a factory in North Las Vegas which is expected to cost $1 billion.
The huge investments and the mystery surrounding the company are clearly indicative that something big is coming. The company feels confident when saying it's going to change the world, although some people are being skeptical about it, claiming that offering a futuristic concept car is good, but offering a real product that can be used on ordinary roads is better. The audience has appreciated the work of the designers but technology-wise, it seems hard to understand innovation if you are not a principal engineer or an AI expert. Even though the strategy is not clear, FF continues to flex its innovative muscles by feeding the media its recent achievements.
Faraday Future doesn't currently have a CEO. There were many rumors of potential candidates and the company has recently announced that Marco Mattiacci will be joining the company. The former Head of Ferrari for North American and Asian operations is seen as a good asset, although it is still not clear which role he is going to fillin the C-suite. Another valuable addition to the company is Nick Simpson who previously worked at Tesla and was deeply involved in the development of its Model S.
Faraday Future keeps hiring big names in the car industry, having no clear explanation of when they will begin building an actual car. The clocks are ticking, and keeping the company a mystery for too long may be not healthy for future success. There is still hope that FF will avoid the fate of being another startup with a sparkle that burned out, but it should hurry up because automotive giants like GM, Toyota, and Ford has already announced the deployment of their driverless models by 2020.