Remember Silicon Valley electric vehicle startup Faraday Future? Turns out it’s not a front for Apple, but it’s actually backed by Chinese giant Letv. Last night at CES 2016, after months and months of hype, the company finally gave us a glimpse of what it’s secretly been working on, and it’s not what you expect. See, Faraday Future’s been hinting about an EV designed to “redefine our relationship with the automobile”, and we’ve been imagining everything from a Tesla competitor to a new ownership model for a high-tech, autonomous car.
What we saw instead is the FFZERO1, a cartoonist-looking single-seat electric racecar concept, something that reminds us more of the Batmobile than a McLaren P1. It’s a conflicting machine with little connection to reality, and some outlandish features like a steering wheel-mounted smartphone, a custom helmet with a water and air supply for the pilot, and a ridiculous transparent rear fin that doubles as a display. While this car is unapologetically a concept, it feels like BS after all the serious talk of redefining personal transportation.
Fortunately there’s a bit more meat to the story. FFZERO1 is built on the startup’s VPA (variable platform architecture), a mashup between Tesla’s “skateboard” chassis and VW group’s MBQ architecture (used in the 7th gen Golf and the Audi A3). This design places the batteries in rows on the floor of the vehicle between the axles, and by varying the number of rows it’s possible to make shorter or longer cars with different exterior sheetmetal and interior layouts. Another benefit is that the platform supports front, rear, or all wheel drive configurations.
By reducing complexity, Faraday Future is betting that its VPA will drastically reduce the cost and time it takes to design and manufacture EVs, all the while providing a broad variety of cars for a wide range of customers. Time will tell if the company can deliver on its promise, but with an amazing team (including BMW i8 designer Richard Kim) and a billion dollar factory in the works in North Las Vegas, it’s well poised to succeed. Check out of our photos from last night’s event below.