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

And now a break from Active E coverage… The Smart Car 3rd Generation “smart fun drive”

For Earth Day 2013, I thought I’d do something fun. I test drove the soon to be released third generation Smart Car Convertible. Smart is touring the vehicle and allowing the lucky registrants test drives. The Los Angeles area run (at Santa Monica Place Mall in Santa Monica, CA) will be ending on the 28th of April. See here to register.

A $28,000 EV Smart car with some upgrades from previous generations. The most notable one is the $28,000 version is a CONVERTIBLE. Yes, you read correctly, the first production line convertible EV. Living in Southern California has its advantages. One of which is the fact that it is one of the locations where it actually does “make sense” to own a convertible. You definitely get enough perfect weather days to drive with the top down! Now, it’s funny to me to drive a Smart convertible because I think that the Tesla Model S with the Panoramic Roof opens up to practically the same amount of open space as a Smart Car convertible, but I believe you can buy three Smart Cars for the price of the Model S.


The instrument cluster for state of charge (SOC) and others are analog


The car comes with 17.6 kwh capacity and a stated 60-90 mile range. The onboard charging is at 3.3 kwh per hour, so a full charge on L2 from empty will take 6 hours. It does come with a convenience 120V charger, but that’s slow as well (like the ActiveE’s where it could take a day from empty.)


same picture with charger packed away.


And finally with the rear closed.


The car does not have any other drive modes than the single gear EV drive, so no Eco Pro or B mode that the Active E or the Nissan Leaf has. So, it really is up to the driver to adjust his or her driving style to maximize the range. The stated 0-60 mph is around 11.5 seconds, but it is rather peppy from 0-30 mph. The test drive was only on city streets, so I was unable to try it faster than the stated speed limits around Santa Monica Place.

As you can see in the pictures, I test drove the convertible. The hardtop is available for $3,000 less at $25,000. Now the Smart representative that accompanied me on the drive mentioned that this is the first of the three generations that customers can buy. The car was warranted for 4 years and 50,000 miles including the battery. To alleviate battery worries, Smart is introducing battery leasing to the USA and I did not get the details as, again, I drive a ton of miles and would probably hit the mileage cap on any capped lease in no time.

No DC Fast charging, just J1772 and, as I mentioned before at 3.3 kwh per hour.


The lit instrument cluster –


As a bonus for the test drive Smart will entertain you on the second floor of Santa Monica Place and provide free “beverages”. Additionally, you get entered into a drawing to win a two year lease of the vehicle and get emailed an offer for $500 off any Smart car that you decide to pick up.

A few pictures from the lounge on the second floor –






More pictures at flickr.

Would I buy one… Probably not. It was a fun, little car though. Drove much better than the ICE version of the Smart Car. Now, I’m waiting for that Fiat 500e. That looks like a fun, little car. More akin to the i3, but less functional, and more aesthetically pleasing.