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The Faraday Future FFZero1 is an EV born of dreams, piles of cash, and poached Tesla talent

Melissa Riofrio | Jan. 6, 2016
But if this billionaire-funded company does succeed in jump-starting EV innovation, that's probably okay with Elon Musk.

The cockpit looks insane: bright-white as if someone else will always clean it, and room for just one person, who will recline at a 45-degree angle and control the car using an airplane-like, semi-circular steering wheel, a slender band of digital readouts along the windshield line, and a head-up display.

faraday future ffzero1 concept variable platform architecture interior 2 ces 2016 
The Faraday Future FFZero1's cockpit features an airplane-like steering wheel and a sleek band of digital dashboard data at the windshield line. Credit: Faraday Future

Most of this exterior stuff probably won’t end up in the normal cars Faraday Future aims to produce later, but much of the guts likely will. Faraday devised what it calls Variable Platform Architecture to make it easier to build more kinds of cars on the same basic underpinnings.

faraday future ffzero1 concept variable platform architecture 1 ces 2016 
Faraday Future's Variable Platform Architecture aims to produce EVs faster by using the same chassis to make many different cars. Credit: Faraday Future

Think Ford's "World Car" strategy, where it tries to deploy one basic car design globally, only even more flexible. Depending on the car it wants to design, FF can tweak battery and motor configuration, vehicle size, and even drivetrain type.

The picture below shows how in the VPA design, the batteries will run along the bottom of the car, like in the Tesla Model S, to save space and create a nice, low center of gravity. Faraday has yet to provide any range information, though, and the world will be waiting for that.

faraday future ffzero1 concept variable platform architecture 2 ces 2016 
Faraday Future's banking on its Variable Platform Architecture to help it build more mainstream EVs on a faster development schedule. Note the battery array along the bottom of this chassis, to lower the center of gravity. Credit: Faraday Future

Theoretically, you could build an EV minivan on the same platform as the FFZero1, just by adjusting the recipe. That’s the real promise of Faraday Future’s concept car.

The one thing Tesla still has that Faraday Future doesn’t is an Elon Musk: a leader who isn’t simply rich, but who has the brains and talent to apply directly to the dream, rather than just fund it. Tesla execs may come and go, but as long as Musk remains I’m sure Tesla will survive. Faraday Future could stumble if Nick Sampson leaves, and it’s already lost its battery wizard, as Bloomberg reported.

Traditional car people will examine the FFZero1's speed specs, critique the aerodynamics, or chuckle at the precious cockpit. That's their right, but they're missing the real point. This fancy car is driving an almost folksy dream to make EVs for everyone. We're not there yet with the current generation of EVs, so there's every reason to remain skeptical. Faraday has some interesting new ideas, though, and as Elon Musk has already proven, a dream backed by money and smarts has a good chance.


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