Some buzz has developed over the past day or so about Faraday Future, an electric-car startup that’s claiming it will being a high-tech new car to market by 2017.
There’s abundant confusion about what the company is, who’s running it, and how it’s being funded. According to various sources, it’s stocked itself with several hundred employees, many drawn from the A-list of the auto industry (BMW) and even from Tesla itself.
The “About Us” on the company’s website is exceptionally skimpy. “We are Faraday Future, a California-based technology company with one vision: clean, connected, smart mobility for all,” it reads. “We are a new company led by an executive team with decades of experience in the automotive and tech industries.”
We also get some gauzy digital renderings of a car that looks vaguely like a BMW i8.
The company has also been characterised as a Silicon Valley startup, but it’s actually now based in a former Nissan facility in Gardena, CA, which is near Los Angeles and not far from SpaceX HQ. Maybe the idea is that it’s OF Silicon Valley.
There have been reports that FF, as the company wants to call itself (Faraday is a reference to the 19th-century English scientist Michael Faraday), is looking for a location to build a factory. Which, as several observers have noted, needs to happen pretty soon if FF wants to make that 2017 delivery date.
So far, the angle on this new EV maker has been: Look out Tesla! Here’s Venture Beat’s take: “[I]t appears that the company may not be catering to the general public, but instead is looking to design and build an electric car that is more luxurious and smarter than Tesla.”
Which is fine, but ultimately it doesn’t matter to Tesla, a company that wants to be a mass-market electric mobility provider, selling 500,000 vehicles annually by 2020, the bulk of them priced around $US35,000. If somebody wants to come in and aim for high ground, Tesla would likely be OK with that.
In fact, if another electric-car startup is coming onto the scene and is indeed for real, it would be welcome news for Tesla CEO Elon Musk. After a great deal of enthusiasm in the 2010-11 period, the bottom has fallen out of the electric-car startup game. Pretty much everyone has gone bankrupt or faded away. Only Tesla has succeeded. And thrived.
But Musk knows that its not good to be a market of one. True, there are some traditional automakers selling EV. But they don’t compete with Tesla, whose vehicles offer 200-plus mile range in the face of the “competition’s” 100 and less. Musk is so determined to grow the overall EV market that he and Tesla undertook the unthinkable move (for the auto industry) of giving away the car maker’s patents. The idea was to spur the creation of more EV startups. Who knows, FF could be using some of these patents, given that it appears to be working on a battery design that’s similar to Tesla’s.
We’ve reached out to FF for additional insight into the company and its plans and will keep you posted.