A few weeks ago, I got an invite from Faraday Future to join them for the unveiling of the FF91. The event was going to be at Las Vegas on January 3rd and I excitedly accepted the invitation.
Though much of the content that I have written on this site are Tesla or BMW focused (historically), I have always been a fan of electric vehicle technology and felt that anything to progress the cause further is well worth supporting.
Because, we’re based in Southern California, and Las Vegas is only a few hundred miles away, we took the opportunity to drive to the event. As with other events, we were presented with the choice between self and valet parking. Having waited for extended periods for the valet at Tesla events, I figured to take the self parking option.
I guess there was going to be some media at the event.
And our car had a nice background to it in the self parking lot that Faraday Future provided for us.
The thing with the self parking option, is it was on the BACK SIDE of the pavilion that Faraday was using for its reveal.
And we had to walk down between two pavilions in the dark to get to the entrance.
While walking toward the entrance, we spotted what looked like the FF car before the reveal, I tried to sneak a picture of it, alas my flash went off and ruined the shot.
The next set of doors that we were able to peak into had some of the AV folks, but no car.
After a very long walk in the cold, Las Vegas evening, we were rewarded with the entrance to the tent.
The self parking lot was a little bit of a walk from the front and as a result, it took us at least 15 minutes to get to the party.
It was the first time to see the skateboard for the Variable Platform Architecture (VPA) that Faraday told us about last year.
Though, I must admit, it does not look very VARIABLE in the configuration at the party.
The skateboard looks like a solid piece that isn’t really going to be the modular design pitched last year. Furthermore, this skateboard looks handbuilt.
It was nice to see the adequate seating provided at the event and the holding reception area was well attended.
We queued up for the entrance to ensure that we got good seats. And Faraday’s first invites were for the members of the broadcast and video media to get themselves set up to get their feeds in.
When the doors opened, depending on the color of the wristband issued to guests, seating areas were provided.
We got silver seating, so we ended up in Section 3.
However, the three roped off sections in front of us were made available to us to move to just before the start of the event, so we were able to occupy the second row from the front of this section.
The first of many speakers started.
I have one hand taking pictures and the other on Twitter… And Chelsea decides to scoop FF with this tweet at the beginning of the presentation.
Faraday Future’s reveal… pic.twitter.com/CNBagx7G6N
— chelsea sexton (@evchels) January 4, 2017
I found out later that evening that she apparently saw the car getting staged around the corner from the entrance of the event, just where she was dropped off by her ride, and decided to take a quick snap.
The drama and staging was long and grandiose. And I hope that next time they show the car MUCH sooner.
Four speakers long, and I think my favorite demonstration was the self-parking one.
But that’s because I’m all about range and not necessarily speed.
I don’t really enjoy the whole “new species” thing when talking about cars. Perhaps it’s watching the Terminator too much and being exposed to the whole Skynet thing.
Driverless valet’s other great invention, saving valet parking charges and tips.
This demonstration was the first official view of the car.
Here’s a video of the car using Driverless Valet:
I liked the fact that in this demonstration the car backed into the spot. Because, if you look at how I parked in the beginning of this article, I tend to do the same thing.
However, I snicker at the snark from EW Niedermeyer on twitter.
I, for one, look forward to a brave new future of being stuck in a parking lot waiting for a Faraday Future FF91 to park itself.
— E.W. Niedermeyer (@Tweetermeyer) January 4, 2017
The next part of the presentation was cool in that we finally get to see the car up front. However, the view was too short for any value to be derived from these timed drag races in front of an audience.
I do love the range though.
I forgot to take a picture of the first car, but here’s the Ferrari.
The Model X.
and finally the FF91.
Rather than provide stills…
I did shoot a couple of videos…
The first is the initial launch.
The second is the return from that launch
and the third is the launch by the FF/Dragon Racing Formula E Driver
And then they talked design.
And they pulled their special guest, YT Jia, what happened next was covered in the news, and all I can say is that it was painful to watch while in the audience and even more painful to hear the excuses.
Faraday’s primary investor, YT Jia, spoke to the crowd and was undeterred by the failure of the car to perform its self parking task. And kudos for him to continue his speech after that uncomfortable episode.
Eventually, the car did drive itself to the middle of the stage and the media were provided close up access to the car. Not an invitation to sit in it or anything, but definitely a chance to see it closer.
I didn’t have a media pass. However, I do have friends in the media, and one of them lent me his pass so that I could take closer shots of the vehicle.
Here’s a picture of the throng of media covering the event and had access to see the vehicle up close.
On the way to the car, spotted some of the principal Faraday Future speakers being interviewed.
Finally, close up pictures of the FF91.
While I was checking out the car, I noticed a familiar sight. Alex Roy, Canonball Driver extraordinaire and editor for The Drive.
It was around this location of the car that we heard some strange pumping noises. Alex Roy went live on Periscope or FB to try to gather some conversation on what this noise could be. Some of the more skeptical journalists around me thought that it sounded like a diesel. Being married to a Tesla Roadster owner, and as an EV advocate, I proposed that it sounded more like a battery cooling system. It was loud enough to hear in person, but difficult to record, so I gave up trying to record the sound. There was a lot of ambient noise and I decided it wasn’t worth trying to record that.
I think the noise from the vehicle must have been coming from one of these vents.
We left the vehicle and proceeded to go to the reception area to see if we can catch up with a few EV friends.
On the way to the reception area, we caught up with a contact at FF and I was able to get a ballpark for prices for the FF91. I was told that $150k to start with lower pricing to be close to $90k after the initial $150k price points. It’s a number that looks realistic with volume, so I hope that they use that VPA platform to build something smaller and less expensive.
So, what about the car?
I’m intrigued with the interior and infotainment system that they are touting. It would have been good to let us sit in and experience that, if it was truly available. Perhaps at the next reveal.
I like the really long range, but as I’ve often discussed with others, I sometimes have to make stops before I need to charge for “bio” reasons.
During the presentation they bragged about the 200 KW charging system that sounds like a PROPRIETARY charging system. Considering that CCS is already discussing 350 kW and Elon’s latest tweets take aim at beating that 350 kW charging, by the time FF91 is released, 200 kW would have been surpassed. Additionally, who has a charging network built to handle that speed? Perhaps the recent announcement of 400 kW charging stations from Chargepoint would partner with Faraday Future and handle the charging for this. However, that network will need to be built and available after delivery. As it is currently, networks are either the proprietary Tesla Supercharger or some electric corridors that are using CHAdeMO and CCS at a maximum of 50 kW if not 25 kW in some parts.
I really think that FF should have demonstrated the VPA with multiple vehicles rather than just one. If you’re going to tout your ability to have multiple sizes quickly, execute on that.
As for the FF91 itself, the car they showed had four seats. It’s a HUGE car and I would expect there to be at least five, if not seven seats. I thought that the car was going to be a crossover, and thus a competitor to the Model X, not another Model S competitor. At the prices that they are charging for the vehicle, I’d like to see more. The Model X is out, but it’s the only one of its class. By going after the Model S, others have already targeted that vehicle. I think that it was a missed opportunity from FF. By configuring the vehicle with only four seats, it seems that the target market for FF isn’t the United States, but China. It looks like the sort of car that one is chauffeured around in, and not one that an owner drives his or herself in.
I had hoped that there would have been an opportunity to ride in several of the vehicles that were shown at the reveal. Tesla does that at their vehicle reveals, whether the Model 3, the dual motor reveal, and so forth. And I had half-expected FF to do that. Apparently, others got to get a ride in the vehicle several days later.
LIVE VIDEO #CES2017 of #FaradayFuture "Driverless Valet" Self-Driving Demo https://t.co/CP8bzE6OAn @thedrive pic.twitter.com/1FUTQ7j6gM
— Alex Roy (@AlexRoy144) January 6, 2017
VIDEO: #FaradayFuture #FF91 Max Acceleration @thedrive pic.twitter.com/ak2RZgXvDc
— Alex Roy (@AlexRoy144) January 6, 2017
Either way, it was a good trip. I’m always glad to see future EV choices. The aesthetics were to “space age” for us and we’re probably going to wait for their next vehicle to see if we can be tempted.