Faraday Future unveils nearly impossible electric car plans, and the variable platform architecture to do so

This evening Faraday Future finally unveiled themselves, showing off what the company has been developing, including a massively powerful electric race car.  The key is what the company calls it’s Variable Platform Architecture, which should enable the company to develop nearly any kind of four-wheeled vehicle.  In other words, Faraday Future has so far developed some base technology for vehicle designs, and is perhaps years away from having a finished electric which can be sold to the public.

This technology is basically a Skateboard sort of vehicle platform.  Any sort of upper shell can be placed on such a platform.  What’s interesting is that Faraday Future’s design can be lengthened for a longer wheelbase that also contains more battery storage, and that the drive train accommodates up to four electric motors which are located next to wheels.  As was said during the unveiling, this means they can easily develop any sort of vehicle including a pickup truck.

The result will give extreme flexibility to develop new vehicle designs.  The engineering team would “simply” modify the base architecture for the vehicle being designed, and then design an upper shell to go on top.

That’s not all the company has developed, however.  Rather, is developing.  A brief look at the Careers page shows they’re working hard to develop the vision.  That vision includes excellent Internet connectivity, presumably with the sort of Over The Air update system you’d expect from a Mac or a a Chromebook or a Tesla Motors vehicle.

Another feature is the car includes all/most of the sensors necessary for autonomous driving, as well as control capabilities for that purpose.

The company wants us to ask – what if we rebooted the car industry with a clean slate?

Watching this video makes me think that the combination of electric drive train, advanced computer/Internet technology, and autonomous vehicles, opens the door to a complete reinvention of the automobile industry.  All the forward looking thinking in the automotive space is focused on autonomous driving, and the possibility that we we won’t have to own a car, and therefore our society won’t have to waste so much land space on parking spots.

The video talks of the sort of “subscription” access to cars the incumbent automakers are also discussing.  GM/Lyft just made an announcement to that effect, today.  Namely, many in the industry foresee automakers who don’t sell to the public, but instead cars belong to car sharing fleets and we borrow cars as needed (for a fee).   Faraday’s video doesn’t add anything to the conversation that others are not already suggesting.

As a way of demonstrating the Faraday Future, the company developed a beyond-your-wildest-dreams supercar on top of the platform.  With four electric motors delivering over 1000 horsepower, this baby is supposed to have a 240 miles/hr top speed, etc.  Just don’t expect this to go to production except for a very limited production run.

Instead, the FFZERO1 is meant to demonstrate their capability to support any kind of vehicle design.

I suppose there’s a practical pragmatic reason – their display booth would be pretty boring if all they could show is the skateboard chassis.  This way they look like a company with a finishable car design, instead of a company with years of work ahead of them.

Last month Faraday Future announced plans to “launch a brand new, state-of-the-art automotive production plant in the very near future.”  The location will be in an industrial park north of Las Vegas.  It’ll cost $1 billion to build the factory, and will ultimately employ 4,500 people.

Fitting with my sense that Faraday has years of work ahead before they’ll have a shippable product, the factory is described this way:

We plan to construct something more than an ordinary ‘assembly line’ – we’re creating a 3 million square foot workshop for passionate creators and diligent visionaries, where new concepts will be refined and implemented; where new discoveries will be conjured and crafted; and where new possibilities can be made, well, possible.

This doesn’t sound like a company who has a specific product in mind.  Instead, it’s a company that’s looking to enable other corporations to develop cars based on Faraday’s technology platform.  Maybe Faraday Future will never be in the business of selling cars directly to customers, but instead will be a parts and technology supplier to OEM’s.  I can think of several car companies who badly need a platform on which to build electric vehicles, and are perhaps way behind the ball on developing in-house EV technology.

Their target for joint ventures doesn’t even need to be traditional automakers.  Instead, Uber is thought to be looking to develop autonomous vehicles so they can ditch those pesky human drivers.  Uber and Faraday could co-develop an Uber-Car, right?

At Faraday’s unveiling ceremony tonight, they made sure to lay out the relative timeline of Tesla Motors and Faraday Futures.  Tesla took five years to get to producing their first car, a conversion of a Lotus Elise.  The Tesla Model S made it to market 9 years after the company’s founding.  By contrast, Faraday Future says they were founded only 18 months ago, already has 700 employees, and is only a couple years away from delivering a production vehicle.

But, to my eye they didn’t show evidence they’ll actually be able to pull this off.

Remember that the automotive industry hasn’t had a successful startup company in over 60 years.  While Tesla Motors has come an amazingly long distance, they are still struggling to reach the point of being a stable self standing automaker.  Faraday suggests they’ll be able to move faster than Tesla Motors was able to do.

 

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.
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About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

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