I wanted to write this while my impressions were still fresh because the one thing I felt that I never explicitly said during our special episode was…anger. It made me mad. I felt used. Faraday Future, from here on, FF, used me for a sucker and I had to sit there and take it. Why? Well, let’s talk about it.
Distraction Number One
Don’t get lost in the “quality” or lack thereof in my opinion, of the event. It had nothing to with the event. It had everything to do with the FF91 and whether or not it was a viable product and, drum roll please, it’s not.
Last night the new vehicle from FF was introduced. It was lauded as their “New Species” and as FF’s way to “Reformat The Future”. So how did FF set out to accomplish this? With a ridiculous limousine. FF spent well over and an hour telling us how amazing, how revolutionary their new product was and as their marketing for the last eighteen months or so has also informed us, it’s not (just) a car, it’s so much more. And, well, it is. Like I said, it’s a bloody limo, a Towne Car, a car that rich people buy to be driven around in. No other explanation, in my world, makes any sense.
This is one of two rear seats in the FF91. Two seats in an enormous car. And make mo mistake, the back seating area of this vehicle is enormous. You could bleacher back there but FF has instead chosen to place two very luxurious seats there. A family of five cannot use this vehicle unless you stacking them like cordwood in the (unmentioned during the presentation) trunk.
What kind of car only has seating for two adults in the rear, very luxurious seating, very expensive seating, “connected” seating? Yeah, a limo.
Now maybe your kids or passengers get shuttled around like this but from what I’ve seen, there’s one word for this configuration and I’ve been using for a few minutes now. FF makes no secret of this though they never use the “L” word. Here’s another tidbit from their website and you tell me, does this sound like a limo or a first
class seat or a passenger vehicle?
Another thing, brought up several times during the presentation the “privacy” the FF91 brings to its owners. PDLC glass, sometimes sold as smart glass or dynamic glass is cool. Polymer dispersed liquid crystals offer one cool feature, tap the glass and it goes opaque. Tap it again and it’s clear. Now, while I am sure there are many wonderful parents who could argue that their children deserve switchable privacy like this I can think of one use scenario where it’s an almost killer app. Did I say the word, “limo” yet?
Connected? Did I say connected? Oh hell yeah the FF91 is connected. It’s been one of the running themes of their ridiculous marketing campaign for the last eighteen months and was played heavily during the CES reveal as well. Here’s what it means, super fact internet access built into the car (no mention of how much or who is paying for it), special software that connects your life, or some sickening bullshit phrase like that. What it boils down is, and forgive me for quoting or paraphrasing FF here, if you’re watching a sports event or playing a game and you have to leave your house and get in the car, the car knows where you are at in either thing, event or game, and allows you seamless access to said activity once you are comfortably ensconced in the aforementioned vehicle. Like maybe the back seat. Like maybe while your chauffeur drives you around.
Which brings another point. Autonomy. The FF will ship as “autonomous-ready”. What this means, we don’t really know. Though Nick Samson and crew insisted their spend and hour and a half or so preaching at us, they really gave little in the way of details. What we do know is that the vehicle has a valet mode which allows it to park itself and will retrieve the vehicle on demand. Valet’s of America, your time is coming. And by coming I mean, over. Using facial recognition or, the more quaintly old fashioned method, sensing your phone, the car will well welcome you and open itself up upon approaching it. During the demonstration the self-parking thing seemed to work ok but honestly, there’s no way to see whether or not it was simply programmed and the departure mechanism failed utterly in an embarrassing moment during the demonstration where FF’s Samson and Le Eco Liu were both left standing when the door would not open.
So maybe performance will save the FF91.
Uh, probably not so much. Here’s why. FF was very proud to announce that their special LG batteries will take the FF91 somewhere, depending on speed, around 400 miles on a single charge. While that’s impressive now, in two, three or four years, when (and if) this car actually hits the market, chances are, that’s a ho-hum number. Also, those batteries, there are 1300 of them delivering a tremendous 130KwH of power. While this number was not specifically defined, FF claims their propulsion system generates over 1000 horsepower. Wow, you say, that’s a lot of ponies, and it is but, now consider the ginormous size of this vehicle. Look at the very heavy tech they are deploying with this thing. Those two NASA grade zero gravity chairs in the back would leave a Prius dragging its hind end down the road. This car is going to be heavy. And by heavy, I mean, it’s going to weigh a metric shit tonne. 1300 18650 batteries alone should around 2,000 pounds. I blathered, last night, this car will weigh 7,o00 pounds and it’s a stupid number but you know, I may not be far off. FF might be that stupid.
But the FF91 is fast as they demonstrated in one of the more inexplicable moments, many long, tedious moments, during the demonstration. As FF had competitors zoom back and forth on the stage and then, the FF91. What exactly this was a demonstration, other than the hubris and cluelessness of the people who staged this event I have no idea but yes, they did it.
The FF91 seems to do a lot for us.
It’s difficult to list out, in text, the mistakes of a nearly two hour long parade of idiots. A few random highlights.
At the beginning we were treated to a video of the “factory” in “phase one” development. This meant, flat dirt. Nevada isn’t exactly a state lacking in flat, open ground. So the development was, like most of FF’s accomplishments, dubious, at best.
In the end, FF never announced a price. They did however continue their grist by announcing they would be taking reservations immediately for a vehicle with no release date and yes, no price. Five large gets a place in line and if you’re lucky and really rich you can get one of the first 300 FF91’s in a special “alliance edition” which means they will donate some portion of your purchase to unspecified (at this time) charities. Like more of FF announcements, this one was half-baked and contained little of real substance. I don’t see what can sustain this company. I think this car is going to be very expensive. I opined that it wouldn’t surprise if the car cost $250K which made my fellow What Drives Us blanch a bit. They feel it will come in cheaper because…competition. I think, given the tenor of this presentation, the ridiculousness of the specs and features of the FF91 and just from what I saw, if you have to ask, you can’t afford it. This is a rich person’s car. Full stop. If you’re thinking of competitiveness and a real business model you’re not getting where these folks are coming from.
I don’t even know if this car will ever be made here in the US or even sold here. I also said, last night, that, given FF’s high profile problems with money, if they make it at all, it might be a Chinese manufacturer selling to the new wealthy class there. In a sense, it makes, and I hate to type this phrase in relation to FF, it makes slightly more sense, which, in essence simply it’s not completely barking mad (just mostly).
FF is company with a complicated history. I don’t know better, which replaces the phrase, “if I didn’t know better” I might opine that FF is merely a front for a foreign billionaire to blow millions for no good damn reason. And they’ve done a fine job of it. Don’t get me wrong, I have it on good authority that a lot of the people there did a lot of good engineering for this vehicle. It’s just the end product that makes no fucking sense.
Faraday Future FF91 specs (from their press release)
KEY SPECIFICATIONS AND FEATURES
Acceleration: 0-60 mph in 2.39 seconds
Power: 1050 HP
Range: 378 miles (EPA est.) and over 700 km (NEDC est.)
Charging Speed: More than 500 miles per hour
ADAS Sensor Suite: 13 long and short range radars, 12 ultrasonic sensors, 10 high definition cameras, 1 3D retractable lidar
Length: 206.7”/ 5250mm
Wheelbase: 126″ / 3200mm
Width: 89.9″ / 2283mm
Height 62.9” / 1598mm