Faraday Future may have just revealed itself as a future rival to connected car powerhouse Tesla with the unveiling of a 1000-horsepower concept car.
The FFZERO1 concept car, revealed just before the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) kicked off in Las Vegas, Nevada this week, is designed by Faraday Future (FF), a Gardena, CA-based firm.
FF is made up of 400 employees and counts a squad of former Tesla executives among its ranks, including former director of vehicle & chassis engineering Nick Sampson -- now acting as FF's senior vice president of R&D and engineering -- Dag Reckhorn, former director of manufacturing for Tesla Model S and Alan Cherry, former senior director of HR at Tesla.
The company recent revealed plans to sink $1 billion in investment into the creation of a 3 million square-foot manufacturing facility in Las Vegas. To show the future fruits of its labors, the company chose CES 2016 to unveil FFZERO1, an electric vehicle based upon FF's Variable Platform Architecture (VPA), a modular engineering system "optimized for electric vehicles."
In addition to this manufacturing process, FF is now working with Chinese content provider Letv to bring together the automotive realm and the Web, cloud technology and entertainment.
The car itself looks rather stunning with a hat tip to the sleek design of sports cars and top-end models. The vehicle could be made of lightweight composites and plans to develop such vehicles include tunnels which run through the full vehicle, increasing air flow within the car rather than around it -- and thereby reducing drag.
FFZERO1, conceptually, will be able to support over 1000-horsepower and will accelerate from zero to 60 in under three seconds, with a top speed of 200mph.
Inside, the FFZERO1 comes equipped with seating based on NASA research, a carbon fiber finish, a glass roof and most importantly, easy connectivity to the outside world and the Web.
In any of today's connected vehicles you will find varying levels of accommodation for mobile devices, whether by stands or through infotainment dashboards, but FF has taken the step to include smartphone enabling directly within the steering column.
"Conceptually, this setup could enable the smartphone to serve as the interface between the vehicle and the driver in -- and outside -- of the car," FF says. "The FFZERO1 concept could be fully autonomous, meeting its driver at the track and perhaps taking a few perfect laps on its own to compare with, and improve upon, its driver's performance."
Batteries remain a bane of the EV developer's existence. The technology simply isn't there for a long-range, sustainable, cheap battery, and while companies such as Tesla are pouring large amounts of investment into improving battery life for use in electric vehicles, FF has decided to circumvent the problem in the short-term.
The company says that its concept car would be equipped with a string of batteries which can be "more easily replaced or changed than a single battery," and this, in turn, leads to the possibility of adding and subtracting strings depending on a car's size, power or range.
So, what makes FF's concept car and the possibilities it represents so special -- and should Tesla be worried?
As the car is only a concept, there's no clear-cut answer to this, but the VPA is more important than you may think. The modular system has been refined to allow for quick promotion to market -- something Tesla has trouble coping with as shown by the company only hitting the low end of delivery goals and leaving some customers waiting years for their vehicles.
According to The Financial Times, Tesla only managed to ship 17,400 vehicles in 2015, which is at the low end of the firm's 17,000-19,000 guidance range. If FF can deliver more vehicles than its potential rival, this alone will strengthen the EV newcomer's position in the market.
In addition, there are rumors FF will launch a subscription-based model for customers, which would grant them access to EVs of varying speed, power and size based on their needs. Such an idea is novel in the EV realm and could give the Californian firm the edge on Tesla, which is likely to struggle with delivery rates for some time to come.
FFZERO1 caused some excitement at CES, but it will be up to FF to keep up the hype and produce a car within the next few years if taking on Tesla is going to become a true possibility.