A new electric-car company has come to life in the US, and it wants to build what it calls the “vehicle of the future.”
It makes sense then, that the company’s name is Faraday Future. The automotive startup was founded nearly two years ago, and quietly emerged in the US over the summer, with promises of a new electric vehicle that would start rolling off its assembly line in 2017.
Faraday Future is backed by Chinese billionaire, Jia Yueting, who is the CEO of the Beijing-based holding company, LeTV.
Until recently, we knew very little about Faraday Future. Nevertheless, whispers about the secretive car company grew ever louder in the automotive world.
Things have changed
Faraday Future has set up shop in Gardena, California, at the site of Nissan’s former headquarters.
The company says it has nearly 500 employees across 40 countries — some of whom are heavy-hitters poached from Tesla, BMW, Ford, GM and SpaceX.
On Wednesday, Faraday Future execs shook hands with Nevada state officials on a plan to build a $1 billion, 3-million-square-foot production facility in Northern Las Vegas.
The one big missing piece, of course, is the car. To date, we have only seen obscure renderings of what a Faraday Future vehicle would look like. We expect the startup to take the wraps off ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show next month.
Since the company appears to have been taking notes from Tesla, it follows that Faraday’s future car could be an all-electric luxury sedan.
The battery pack is said to potentially have 15 per cent higher specific energy than the 85 kWh battery pack found in some versions of the Tesla Model S. A Tesla with that battery gets an estimated 270 miles on a full charge. Tesla offers a 90 kWh battery upgrade as well — which adds about 6% more juice — bumping that range up to about 286 miles when the battery is fully charged.
If Faraday Future’s claims hold true, its battery would come in at around 98 kWh.
AP Photo/Nick Ut
This Friday, Nov. 6, 2015 photo shows the Faraday Future building in Gardena, Calif. Faraday Future has been hunting for a place to build what it says will be a $1 billion manufacturing plant for a new line of cars. Four states are contenders and the company says to expect an announcement within weeks. Like Tesla, Faraday’s car will be all-electric, and debut at the high end.
Not like buying a car from a regular dealer
This company’s ambitious plans go far beyond the status quo of car ownership. Tamara Warren at The Verge noted last month that the company is trying to reimagine both the automobile, the manner in which we acquire them, and how we interact with them on the road.
In a chat with Bloomberg last month, Faraday Future research and development exec, Nick Sampson, said “Our business model is not based around moving a car out of the dealer,” hinting that the company’s idea of car ownership may not involve owning the car at all.
Like Tesla, but with more tech
In that same Bloomberg interview, Sampson compared Faraday Future’s business model to that of a smartphone maker. “The revenue starts once you get the device in the owners’ hands. We’re looking at subscriptions and apps and other opportunities.”
Another company exec, Dag Reckhorn, said Thursday that the car will “embrace the increasingly intrinsic relationship between technology and mobility,” hinting that subscription services will be a big part of the user experience.
And the startup is expected to embrace the move toward autonomous technology — perhaps like what we’ve seen with Tesla’s Autopilot.
We still don’t know what a Faraday Future car will cost, or when we can realistically expect to see them on the road. The company’s 2017 target is ambitious, but the moves it has made so far indicate that it’s serious about carving out a piece of the all-electric vehicle market.
For now, that space belongs to Tesla, but Elon Musk’s company likes to share, and welcomes the competition.
“We’re glad to see interest, investment and development in EVs,” a Tesla spokesperson said in a statement to Business Insider Thursday.
We’ll keep following this story and let you know the latest when it happens.