Finally, after all the hyperbole, build up and crazy hypercar concepts, Faraday Future has an actual car. The covers came off the Faraday Future FF91 at CES and the company claims it took more than 61,000 orders for a machine that doesn’t even have an official price tag and won’t hit the road until 2018.
The sister company to LeEco has been through the wars in recent months and the motoring press had started to lose patience. Apart from the the FFZero1 hypercar, which will probably never happen, Faraday Future had been decidedly short on substance before the big reveal in Las Vegas.
While the company has hired a number of big name staff, a lot of them have come and gone within just a few months. There were reports of smaller firms suing over unpaid bills and the company halted work on its Nevada factory. Things were not looking good.
More than a few industry insiders were predicting the end for Faraday Future before it even sold a car and they still are. So it was a positive step to see the company make such a bold move with the FF91, even though it has pushed the bounds of credibility with the preorders it claims to have received.
We like the car and the clever tech, but we have serious doubts about the company and management’s ability to turn this innovative dream into a reality.
If they can turn all this theory into a working car, then the FF91 promises to be the fastest, most advanced and arguably the most stylish EVs on the road. So we’re like kids that want to believe in Santa Claus right now, but there’s always smoke with Faraday Future and we’re all kind of waiting for the fire.
Here’s everything that we know, and almost everything you need to know, about the Faraday Future FF91.
Faraday Future FF91: Launch date
The company says this car will ship in 2018 and it kind of has to now they have taken the pre-orders. A priority pre-order cost $5,000, although we hear there were just 60 of those firm orders.
Then FF undoubtedly bumped up the numbers with a totally free ‘standard reservation’ and proudly proclaimed it had taken 61,424 reservations for a car that pretty much limped through its first demonstration.
We couldn’t see the interior, because it isn’t finished, Faraday Future steadfastly refused to name a price and that number of orders just doesn’t tally with anything we know about the automotive industry.
We’re not saying it’s a lie, but we can say that Tesla took 520 pre-orders at the launch of the much more achievable Model S.
Faraday Future simply cannot deliver that many cars and there’s an awful lot of troublesome tech on this car that sounds good in theory, but could be a real pain to perfect. It also has more fundamental problems to deal with, like funding the factory and paying suppliers.
So let’s take the pre-orders with a pinch of salt, wait for the official launch and reassess the situation then.
Faraday Future FF91: Price
This one is awkward and we think it’s another case of Faraday Future failing to communicate. After refusing to name a price, Jia Yueting then gave an interview in China where he said he price would be less than 2 million Yuan. That sent the world’s press into a feeding frenzy as it translates to around $290,000.
But nothing is ever that simple. China has swinging luxury car taxes and we’ve have to take a step back, put a finger in the air and take an educated guess at the FF91’s final pricing.
It still isn’t good news. If we take the Tesla Model X as the benchmark, then we estimate the FF91 will still cost more than $200,000 when it hits the road. That’s an awful lot of money.
The FF91 might well be a benchmark car, but it’s going to cost so much that normal people simply won’t be able to afford it. This car is going head-to-head with the likes of the Bentley Bentayga, rather than the Chevy Bolt and it makes even the range-topping Tesla Model X look like a performance bargain.
Faraday Future FF91: Design
Now we get to the good stuff. The FF91 is a simply stunning machine to look at. Does it look like a $200,000 car? Well that’s debatable, but if some of these neat design tweaks make it through then this is going to be the prettiest SUV on the road by a long, long way.
It looks more like an abstract limousine rather than a traditional SUV, thanks to the overall length of 206.7 inches and a 126-inch wheelbase. This is a seriously big car, then, but it comes with a number of clever design tweaks that include high side skirts and box section detailing to break up the sides.
Now that’s just a visual trick, the suicide rear doors are more significant and they also come with an external panel that will show you the battery life at a glance. The mirrors, too, should give way to a camera system that’s featured on the display car.
There are an awful lot of angles colliding at the rear, but that spectacular 3D lighting matrix at the rear with the wraparound LEDs draws the eye and brings the whole thing together.
Faraday Future has used the same trick of blacked out lower sections and A-pillars that make the silver car look far slimmer than it really is. In fact, the front looks a little too delicate and intricate for an SUV, but we still have to say that it’s a striking design and the integrated lighting makes the whole thing pop.
Those lights will be an essential part of the ride-hailing scheme that FF has proposed, although it’s hard to see how there will be available build slots for a few years. When the ride-hailing scheme does come online, they will communicate with these lighting rigs and let you know when the car is free.
Faraday Future FF91: Power
Now, this is where the FF91 leaves more or less everything trailing in its wake. A 130kWh battery pack gives this all-wheel-drive SUV 783kW of output. Yes, really, that’s 1050bhp that will send this beast scorching to 60mph in just 2.39s.
It’s an interesting set-up, with three electric motors, with 350bhp each. Two power the rear wheels, while a third takes care of the front axle and that should give the car a rear-drive feel.
FF was keen to show off at CES and paraded their SUV against a series of supercars. Inevitably it beat them all and that did not sit well with Tesla. It took them just a week to beat the FF91’s 0-60mph time with a Model S equipped with Ludicrous Plus, but by that time Faraday Future had fired the first shot.
It was the start of some slightly childish Twitter ‘beef’. Faraday Future says this model is just the beginning and it will come back with even more torque in the near future. That’s a relative term, though, because it won’t tell us how much torque the car actually has right now.
— Faraday Future (@FaradayFuture) 16 January 2017
Perhaps more importantly, it will cover 482 miles on a single charge at 55mph and the marque claims that the EPA ‘adjusted’ range is 378 miles. Tesla can’t match that, yet, and the FF91 looks set to be the undisputed range champion when it finally lands.
Faraday Future FF91: Interior
Now we’re into the unknown, because Faraday Future simply hasn’t shown us a complete interior and won’t do for a while.
That could be because it needs to source new ‘Zero Gravity’ seats and other interior components after Futuris Automotive reportedly sued the company for $10 million. As part of the settlement, Faraday Future must find new seats. That’s a shame, because it claimed the original seats were inspired by NASA and it made a whole teaser video about them.
At CES, though, it was forced to show the car with an unfinished interior and we’re left to draw our own hopeful conclusions about this giant four-seater that surely could fit another row of seats in there. Right now we know about luxury rear seats that lay almost flat like a bed, but that isn’t the most efficient use of the huge space at the designer’s disposal and we’re expecting a minibus at some point.
The controls look to have more in common with Tesla’s Model X than a traditional car and Faraday Future has gone for a tablet-style interface in the front fascia. It has also promised separate infotainment and screens for each passenger, but that’s really all we know for sure right now.
Faraday Future FF91: Handling
It doesn’t just have four-wheel-drive, the FF91 also has all wheel steering so it can corner like a much lighter car.
Again, we’re dealing with a soup of relativity as we simply don’t have the final weight of the car. The entire chassis is made from aluminum and follows FF’s Variable Platform Architecture and while the company wants to replace some aluminum bodywork with carbon-fiber, that won’t have a massive impact on the final curbweight.
We can make an educated guess at 5000lb, but anybody that has got up close and personal with that four-wheel-steering is convinced it feels lighter on its feet.
Faraday Future FF91: Self-driving capability
This is where Faraday Future wants to trounce the competition and the FF91 is making all the right noises. The only problem is that the company has shown its hand, to a large extent, and the major manufacturers have at least a year to respond.
But they have a lot of ground to cover and FF can keep working on developing is Level 4 system. Basically the car can find its own way to a parking spot thanks to that pop-up LiDAR cylinder in the hood and 36 external sensors. So you can pull up at the front door and send the car off to find a parking spot.
There is bad news. The company will have to map each individual car park before the system will work and it did fail at CES. But FF has a year to fix this or, at least, come up with a more elegant solution.
You can also schedule a pick-up, or simply call the car when you need it and the autonomous tech will take care of the rest.
Faraday Future is refusing to commit to a fully autonomous car in 2018, though, and the says it will provide adaptive cruise control and basic safety assistance on the early cars and nothing more. That means a lot of the car’s USP will actually be disabled and the FF91 will be a long way behind its nearest rival when the car hits the road. If it hits the road…
Faraday Future FF91: Trick technology
As you approach the car, facial recognition software linked to cameras in the pillars will also pick you out and open the door for you. Together with the autonomous functionality and self-parking capability, you kind of get a chauffeur in with the deal, which might help you justify the asking price.
The company promises this will be the most connected car on the market. So that means that it will know each individual passenger’s preferences and connect to their unique content without being asked. There will be a foldout cinema-style screen for the passengers in the back and every passenger will get their own selection of screens.
Those rear seats should fold almost flat, like First Class, if FF can replace the work of Futuris Automotive. The panoramic PDLC glass roof and windows can also tint according to your preferences, too, which will give the FF91 a light and airy feel and privacy as required.
Faraday Future promises to bring us the tech revolution we have been talking about of late and leave the established manufacturers in its wake. If it delivers on every promise, this car really will be a trailblazer.
We’d love to believe in the Faraday Future FF91. It’s exactly the kind of car we’re looking for and it’s a technical leap forward. FF is also a potential rival for Tesla and Elon Musk needs the competition to push him into taking creative risks. Faraday Future could be good for this industry.
But while the company promises all kinds of exciting tech, it needs to get the basics right and so far we keep hearing the wrong things about the factory, supplier payments and a revolving door when it comes to recruitment.
When the FF91 is on the road, in front of us, as a finished production car, then we’ll believe it and we’ll allow ourselves to get truly excited by a trailblazing electric car that could tear up the rulebook. Until then we’re keeping ourselves in check and we think you should too.
There are a lot of great ideas at Faraday Future and they seem to have done the hard graft on the technical level. Now they need to go back to basics and actually build a car.
If they can do that, then the FF91 could really turn into the Tesla-killer we have been waiting for. But we’re not holding our breath just yet.