FFZERO video still

Electric car startup Faraday Future took its biggest step out of stealth mode tonight by unveiling its first concept car at CES in Las Vegas. As much as we didn’t want it to be true, the leak we publish early in the morning turned out to be correct.

As it turns out, despite Faraday’s short timeline aiming to bring to market its first car in 2017, the company is holding on showing its mass market car, which was only briefly mentioned during the presentation, and instead shows a “test bed” concept to showcase some technology and “design DNA”: the FFZERO1.

The real story of the presentation was the introduction of the company’s EV platform called VPA, which is short for Variable Platform Architecture.

The platform at first glance looks exactly like Tesla’s – motors on one or each axle, battery pack extending flat on the floor – but where FF tries to differentiate itself is with a higher degree of customization, hence the word variable in the name.

The company claims it can somewhat easily change the size of the crumple zone and “strings” of battery packs on the platform, which enables the production of compact cars and pickup trucks on the same platform.

The platform also allows for several electric motors – from one to three (possibly four) and is “autonomous ready”.

Here’s a quick video overview of VPA:

As for the FFZERO01 concept, lead designer Richard Kim described it as a “test bed” for the company’s technology and showcase of its design DNA – meaning that we are not likely to ever see the car in production or if so, only in limited production.

Kim said during the presentation that the line running on the side of the vehicle, which he calls ‘UFO line’, will find its way in FF’s future vehicle designs.

The company claims that the FFZERO1 can produce 1,000 horsepower, accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in under 3.0 seconds, with a top speed above 200 mph.

FF equipped the concept with a bunch of tech including a smartphone that fits in the steering wheel, a NASA inspired seat for top circulation and a “Halo Safety System” with integrated oxygen and water supply. There was also a brief mention of a custom helmet? Do you need a helmet to drive the FFZERO1? I hope not. It would certainly send the wrong message.

Nick Sampson, founding member of the FF team and vice-president of product development, highlighted how incredibly fast the startup has been progressing in its first 18 months. We’d have to agree that they managed to hire over 750 employees at an incredibly fast pace and they already secured an agreement with the state of Nevada to build a $1 billion factory.

But – and it’s a testament to the effectiveness of FF’s marketing team I suppose – with all the hype and teasers, and especially the claim of a vehicle to market by 2017, we thought Faraday Future would show an alpha prototype of the mass market car they plan to produce, not a Batmobile-looking single-seater with little to no chance of finding itself in the hands of customers, no matter how cool it looks.

I still think Faraday Future has interesting potential. They have an impressive and growing team of automobile and tech veterans, and they are backed by the deep pockets of LeTV, which we already suspected, but the company finally confirmed it tonight by introducing LeTV’s Ding Lei on stage during the presentation. But we certainly need to learn more about their ownership model and mass market car, both subject which were barely addressed during the presentation.

Though understandably, the focus of the presentation was the FFZERO1:


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Fred Lambert

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