Faraday Future, the secretive EV startup from California which prefers to go by just "FF," has unveiled its first-ever car, a concept race car called the FFZERO1. Described as a "proving ground" for the company's engineering, design, and technological skills, it'll likely never go into production.
A combination of design exercise and technology showcase, the FFZERO1 is a single-seat electric race car. If it were to go into production, FF says, it would have four electric motors producing more than 1,000 hp together, hit 60 mph in "under three seconds," and reach over 200 mph. The company hasn't ruled out a small production run if enough interest is generated (and backed-up with cash). Details on the company's first production car remain a mystery.
Being a concept from a virtually unknown company, many of the FFZERO1's features are qualified with words like "could" and "might," but here's what we know: the FFZERO1 is built on the company's Variable Product Architecture, a skateboard-type chassis not unlike Tesla's which holds the battery, motor(s), suspension, and drivetrain electronics. VPA will be the basis for all of the company's models and can be fitted with one, two, or three electric motors in front-, rear-, or all-wheel drive layouts.
Powering the FFZERO1 and all future FFs is a long, flat package of batteries arranged in what FF is calling a "string." Designed as a group of individual modules rather than one complete battery pack, FF says its design charges faster, holds more energy, and is safer in the event of a fire. Moreover, the company says the individual modules can be swapped out if they get damaged or wear out, rather than replacing the whole pack. Additionally, this flexibility allows FF to design more-powerful or longer-range vehicles in the future simply by stretching out the chassis and adding more modules. The standard pack is understood to have a capacity of roughly 100 kilowatt-hours. Battery design and engineering may have suffered a significant set-back with the recent and sudden departure of its key architect, but FF has not commented on the matter.
The concept features a number of unique elements unlikely to make production, such as a tailfin which doubles as a digital billboard. An inboard-mounted suspension makes room for massive tunnels around the single-seat cockpit which improve both aerodynamics and battery cooling, according to FF. Inside, the driver sits right in the middle on a seat reclined 45 degrees for a "weightless body position" designed to improve blood circulation. A smartphone mounts in the center of the steering wheel and, we believe, acts as the control interface for most of the car's functions, as there seem to be no other buttons or switches. FF says the car "could be" autonomous and it comes with a special racing suit and helmet with integrated HANS device, water, and oxygen for the driver. The suit "could" gather biometric data, too.
Some of the concept's features will transfer over to future production models. The concept is built from "lightweight and composite materials," as will be the production models. The "UFO line" around the middle of the body will be a signature design element of future FFs, as will the "propeller-shaped" dashboard. Technology that allows for "adaptive personalization, seamless transfer of custom vehicle configurations, access to live images, and real-time data visualization" will also show up in production models. What it will actually do is anyone's guess.
At the car's unveiling, FF also announced a partnership with Letv (pronounced L-E TV), a Chinese tech giant mostly unknown in the U.S. which does everything from streaming music and video to building smartphones and smart TVs. Letv even owns its own video production studio and cloud computing service, and, oh yeah, it was founded by the same guy who founded FF. Billionaire CEO Jia Yueting was only recently revealed as the money behind FF in public documents, as the company has refused to talk about its ownership. What the partnership will involve wasn't announced, but it will likely cover in-car entertainment, data services, and the like.
FF also recently announced plans to build a $1 billion, 3-million-square-foot factory in North Las Vegas, Nev., to build its future production cars. Predicted to employ around 4,500 people, the as-yet un-built factory is slated to produce its first car in 2017.