The Chinese giant has added another arrow to its quiver. And this one actually flies
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Faraday Future: "We have to be the best in every way"
Top Gear speaks to a bullish Faraday as it shows off the 1,050bhp FF 91 at CES
It’s fair to say that, upon seeing the Faraday Future FF 91 for the first time, the internet has reacted with some scepticism. So we decided to use the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to get a closer look, and speak to Faraday’s design chief, Richard Kim.
“It’s inside out design,” he tells us. “When we buy the new generation of car, we’re going to be thinking about the back seats. There’s this old notion that being in the back seat of a car means you’re extremely wealthy, and you’re being chauffeur driven; now the back seat is just as important for the Uber generation. So we’ve designed this car for someone who’s never had a driving licence. This is the first of its kind.”
So the interior – which Faraday unhelpfully wouldn’t let us photograph – gets two seats rather than three, and they look as large, sumptuous and reclining as anything Rolls or Merc offers. Yeah, we weren’t allowed to sit in it, either. Predictably there are screens aplenty, while the doors are coach-style (the back doors rear-hinged), like on a Rolls-Royce Phantom.
There are no door handles – just push a button for them to swing electronically open – and the car allows or denies access via facial recognition. Kim acknowledges the FF 91 won’t be cheap, and many will experience it via car-sharing, something which requires a new way to access cars if you’re to stroll up and borrow one rather than own it.
Kim makes bold claims about the FF 91’s interior functionality, too. “We want to have the absolute best connectivity. Not just ever in a car, but we want to be better than your home or office. So when you have bad phone signal at home, just go in the car.”
It may be designed for people without a licence, but Faraday wants its car to appeal to those who do have one. Hence 1,050bhp and a claimed 0-60mph time of 2.39secs, something it’s tried to prove with plentiful videos of the FF 91 beating a Ferrari, Bentley and a Tesla Model S on a drag strip.
“We’re the fastest production car. If you do like driving your car, you want to be the fastest car. Here you can smoke all the Ferraris. We have to be as good as possible in everything. We can’t compete in the old way. We have to be the best in every way. We have to do it all in one, like your phone.”
The FF 91 is big, we say. So how can it be the best to drive? “What are the problems with a big car? They’re sometimes hard to drive and park,” Kim says. “If this car has four-wheel steering and torque vectoring, it behaves like a small car, and then it parks itself. So those problems are taken care of.”
Aerodynamics have played a big part in the design. The wheel spokes move, so they can completely close the wheel off for better aero, or open it back up to cool the brakes. Probably for the best when you’ve been, um, smoking all the Ferraris. There’s sculptured panels to move air efficiently around the car, yielding a claimed 0.25Cd drag coefficient, impressive for a car so large.
The lights work alongside autonomous driving features to let other road users know the car is in charge, and help it communicate its intentions to drivers and pedestrians. Around the back, what look like traditional exhaust gas outlets are actually air intakes, sucking cool air towards the batteries and motors.
Kim is bullish about future plans, too. The FF 91’s platform is scalable to any car you can imagine, including – yes – some kind of supercar.
But there’s a big barrier to get past first: getting the FF 91 made and out to customers. Faraday claims to have taken over 60,000 pre-orders after just a couple of days on show at CES, with production set to begin in Nevada in 2018. The CES show car was the first time most Faraday employees had seen the car all in one piece, though.
“This is the first time we’ve seen it assembled with all of the correct parts,” says Kim. “We’ve seen them all in isolation plenty, but this is the first time it all came together. And we said ‘wow, we did okay’. You have to have guts to design a car on computer like that.”
And you have to have guts to claim your car will be the best in every category. We await to see if the FF 91 can live up to its maker’s claims…