Visiting Faraday Future… Impressions for a hopeful future….

This week is the start of a great EV week for rEVolutionaries. Especially if you’re in Southern California… It was extra special for me, ’cause I got to add one more to the two things happening toward the end of the week.

I was lucky enough to be invited by Dustin Batchelor (on twitter or his blog) on his visit to Faraday Future [updated 2016-04-01, his blog post on his take on the Faraday Future visit] during his family vacation to Southern California to attend Formula E’s second visit to Long Beach this weekend.

Dustin is a fellow rEVolutionary and 2 Electric Vehicle family (Leaf and Volt) from British Columbia and had driven down to Southern California with his family in their Volt. He had hoped to visit Tesla Motors, but didn’t get a response to his requests for a factory tour from Tesla. Apparently he also reached out to Faraday for a visit and was granted one by the folks there. When I heard from him that he was going to drop by and tour Faraday, I asked him if I could “tag along” and he requested and was granted approval by his contact at Faraday to bring me along.

So, step one to the visit was to sign the Mutual Non-Disclosure Agreement from Faraday Future and I wanted to make sure to protect my secrets, so I signed the document (kidding, though the NDA was mutual, I wasn’t working on anything proprietary… 😉 ) and returned it to our contact at Faraday Future.

The NDA guarantees that I won’t be taking any pictures of my visit, so you WON’T be seeing ANY pictures of the visit to Faraday Future, but I can share my thoughts and impressions of this company.

First off, many have wondered whether Faraday Future was producing vaporware. As the secretive company was announcing its sponsorship of Formula E’s stop in Long Beach, one of my staple EV news sites, Transport Evolved published the article “Just Ahead Of Long Beach FIA Formula E Race, Faraday Futures Becomes Surprise Official Sponsor — But Still Has No Car”. The company was criticized by its CES debut by many because they produced a super-car concept (the FFZERO1 Concept) rather than a “real car.” As I tweeted during their big reveal, it’s really their VPA (Variable Platform Architecture) that I felt was important in the announcement and not the FFZERO1. The VPA is basically a base that can be expanded or shrunk down to use as a basis for their entire line of vehicles. Comparing this to Tesla’s Model S and Model X and the skateboard design which is a fixed size to build the platform on top of.

I looked forward to this visit because I had my reservations as to the substance of the firm and its viability. After all, the history of American automotive startups is littered with failure. It is often said that last “successful” American automotive startup was Chrysler.

So, I went to this visit without much expectations and came out of it fully satisfied.

As I mentioned earlier, I was unable to take pictures of the facilities or share what they are working on but I can tell you my impressions.

  1. This is a growing company and it is growing fast.
  2. There was an energy in the air as I walked through their facilities and people were focused on their work. Furthermore, this same energy can be summed up as a “sense of urgency” as these guys realize that they are looking to join a field that is dynamic and filled with awakening giants because of Tesla and its success.
  3. Since I was unable to take photos, I thought to at least share a photo that IS public and here is a photo taken in December 2015 of Faraday Future offices that was part of their CES Press Kit.
    Screenshot 2016-03-29 18.35.00
    I can tell you that this photo is INACCURATE. It is inaccurate because there are SO MUCH MORE PEOPLE in the offices that these pictures were taken in now than there was when it was taken four months ago.
  4. They’re out of parking. I arrived to take the “last spot”.
  5. These guys are working on a lot of systems in parallel with developing their car. We saw “mules” of their technology in other OEM’s vehicles to test their technology on a platform akin to what they would be developing their own vehicles in.
  6. Faraday Future must have bought large-car sized tarp and sheets from Costco… We saw quite a bit of concept cars covered by tarp and sheets.
  7. There is a lot of tech that they are using. We walked by several workstations that reminded me of a space mission control location. Desks buttressed to each other with multiple monitor stations in front of each employee.
  8. They have lofty goals, but ones that would benefit EVeryone in the rEVolution should they execute on their goals.

Lastly, as “parting gifts”, the guys over there provided us with a hard-copy of their CES Press Kit.



Here is a link to the same kit in PDF form.

Apparently, Dustin Batchelor and I were not the only folks to visit Faraday Future this week, I wonder whether Chelsea will be able to share more than I was

Are Plug-in Hybrids, EVs?

So, are plug-in hybrids, EVs?

Count me as one of those BEV (battery electric vehicle) snobs that have been irritated when I turn up to a public charging and find Chevy Volts plugged in and taking space.  I’ve always felt that if you were going electric, jump in feet first.

Even after slightly over 15 months of driving electric, I am a relative newcomer to the EV world.  My original bias was caused by my attitude that pure BEV are superior to our plug-in hybrid brethren and felt that those that went halfway with their Chevy Volts, etc. could use gasoline and therefore shouldn’t be taking the space on an EV charging station.  I held this belief for my first year of EV driving.  So, why the change of heart?

Well, I’ve listened to my “elders”, in terms of years of EV experience, etc.

On Thursdays at Noon Pacific, 3pm Eastern, and 8pm British Time, Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield and Mark Chatterley host a program called Transport Evolved.  I started listening to the program on episode 144 and have been hooked since.  I’ve used Youtube and iTunes to catch up on the backlog and you should too.  Though I may find that the program may be more focused on the “green” aspects of EVs and the like and not necessarily on the economics that motivated me, I find their review of EV news to be interesting and entertaining.  They (at least Nikki is) are real “car people”.  Mark is very entertaining.  The hosts definitely have a more Liberal (had they been in the US) view of things than I, but they definitely make good points.

After spending some time through hours of the series backlog, I’ve been convinced by the hosts and their guests regarding the fact that the entire EV community (including our plug-in brethren) are too few to stand divided.  I have been reminded of the challenges that the “previous” generations of EV owners have done to blaze the trail and that we need to support those that are taking “baby” steps toward EV ownership.  Once they drive one and get more comfortable.  They’ll get it.

Basically, I respect the fact that Volt owners would go through all sorts of lengths to stay driving electric.  I can only guess how frustrating it is to only have 40 miles of EV range.  Even driving a pure BEV for the majority of my drive has still required me to go approximately 20% of the time on gasoline.  Now, I don’t feel guilty about driving gas, just irritated at how much it costs me when I do.  In fact, during the past three months, it cost me a bit to replace the battery on my X5.

Now, an optimal 40 mile battery range for a plug in hybrid makes the vehicle practically electric and should be treated with respect.  What about the 12-16 mile range plug in hybrids (like the Plug in Prius or Plug in Accords)… Well, I’m not SO “enlightened”.  I’m still irritated by those.  I mean, there ARE better choices (in terms of battery range, etc.)  I don’t know if I’ll ever be “enlightened” enough to welcome Plug in Prius or Plug in Accord users, but in the meantime.  I’m ok with saying that “I was wrong.”

So, join me (and a bunch of other EV enthusiasts) and support my favorite EV journalist, advocates and their guests on Transport Evolved.