7 Reasons Why Faraday Future & Its 1000hp EV Supercar Will Fizzle
Updated February 7, 2017
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Faraday Future unveiled its strategy and a static 1000 hp EV supercar at CES. A close look reveals there’s nothing new, and our prediction is that FF will last only until money from China stops flowing in.
While the company showed off a flashy concept car, there wasn’t really an “meat” in what they told attendees and those of us watching on the internet. They claim to be getting to market faster than Tesla did, but they certainly didn’t demonstrate their capabilities.
[nextpage title=”Reason 1: The Launch Presentation was Amateur Hour.”]
Reason 1: The Launch Presentation was Amateur Hour.
I’ve witnessed over 100 product launches and this was, by far, the least professional. The company touts how they’ve culled the best of the best from the industry so I expected more. The first speaker Stacy Morris, Farady Director of Communications) had to tell the crew to turn on the teleprompter. Then if you were unfortunate enough to be watching on live YouTube the Chinese translator walked all over the speakers on stage (not a problem on the FF site, though). If you’re going present yourself as the automotive version of Apple, you need to be a lot better at the details.
Then the second speaker (Nick Sampson, Faraday’s head of R&D) made backhanded compliments about Tesla and its time-to-market and how FF will be faster (of course you will. Everything you’re offering is already on the shelf. Tesla had to invent everything. Trust me, it wasn’t pretty. I know some engineers who developed the Roadster and there were humongous issues to overcome), and finally compared themselves to Apple (guess what, you’re not Apple).
Jia Yueting, owner of LeTV, sometimes referred to as the Chinese Netflix, who is the money behind FF made some incongruous comments in the middle of the presentation, which gives us a clue as to who is calling the shots.
[nextpage title=”Reason 2: They’re Not Competing With Tesla”]
Reason 2: They’re Not Competing With Tesla
If this were a fight between two start-ups, it would be one thing. Tesla will sell only 50,000 – 60,000 cars this year (for perspective Ford sold 85,000 F-Series trucks in December alone).
But now you have the biggest, most technologically savvy automakers in the world whose resources dwarf the $1 billion investment Faraday Future secured to build their factory – GM could spend multiples of that without blinking an eye. The big auto manufacturers would be perfectly happy to lose money on every EV they sell to drive Tesla and Faraday Future out of the market. The time that EVs were a niche market is over and the opportunity for Faraday Future to gain a toe hold has passed.
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Reason 3: They’ve Got Nothing New
Their Variable Platform Architecture, which they didn’t claim they invented, but then didn’t say they didn’t, actually goes back to a 2002 EV prototype built by GM called the AUTOnomy. GM dubbed the chassis “the skateboard” to which you could change-out bodies. In fact almost every car built today is built on some type of variable platform, where there are center fixed points all models share (for production commonality and to meet safety standards), and length and width are extended accordingly.
[nextpage title=”Reason 4: Their Variable Platform Concept is Flawed”]
Reason 4: Their Variable Platform Concept is Flawed
In the presentation, Nick Sampson, Faraday’s head of R&D, mentioned how the chassis could be stretched and the motors swapped around but the “ends” (suspension) would remain the same. That’s not a workable solution. If you use the platform for an SUV, the suspension has to be stout enough to carry both an in-vehicle as well as a towing load, which means heavy springs, shocks, suspension arms, bushings, etc. If you want to shrink down the platform for a two-door commuter car, you can’t use the same suspension as not only will it be overweight but the NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) would be like driving without a suspension at all. Not just that, but likely the basic suspension geometry itself would need to be altered based on application, ride height, wheelbase, track, roll center height, and other factors. In essence, the simplicity, speed to market, and economies of scale they attribute to the platform don’t actually exist (to the extent they claim).
[nextpage title=”Reason 5: They Don’t Seem To Know The Difference Between a Concept Car and a Race Car”]
Reason 5: They Don’t Seem To Know The Difference Between a Concept Car and a Race Car
The non-operational FFZERO1 concept they unveiled was repeated referred to as a “race car”. Very strange. Every enthusiast known that a race car is stripped down and certainly doesn’t have a smart phone mounted in the steering wheel. (As an aside, they mention that the driver’s seat is angled based on NASA research of zero gravity. Race cars don’t operate in zero gravity, they operate in high lateral gravity or “g’s”. Back to the title. There’s nothing wrong with calling it a concept, or even a supercar or hypercar – names exist for 1000 hp sports cars. It makes me wonder if calling it a “race car” was a decision that was made in China. If decisions at that level of detail have to come from China, it’s going to impact their ability to develop products speedily. One thing’s for sure, Mazda knew how to create a concept/race car with the Furai.
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Reason 6: After 18 Months All They Have to Show Is A Conventional Chassis and a Non-Operational Concept Car
Clearly the FFZERO1 shown was non-operational. Any car that can run under its own power is driven onto the stage during a launch. Further the video they showed of the FFZERO1 “running” was clearly CGI. As every element of the car – batteries, controllers, suspension, wheels, tires, etc. – are all available off the shelf. It’s understandable if the cockpit is still a mock-up but at least it looks like you’ve done something other than style a swoopy body.
[nextpage title=”Reason 7: They Have Nothing Unique To Offer”]
Reason 7: They Have Nothing Unique To Offer
Their chassis concept is borrowed and in use by competitors, the advantages they claim their “Variable Platform Architecture” aren’t as significant as they claim, their Chief Battery Designer just quit the company. Whether his departure has anything to do with the company’s multiple battery strategy is unknown, however, the concept is not a new one. In essence there wasn’t anything breakthrough at the FF launch, no new technologies, no new manufacturing strategies, just what everyone else has been doing but called a new name. As they loved to say in the 1970s “Where’s the Beef”?