Faraday Future, at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show here Jan. 4, introduced a bright, shiny object.
Some people, including the Faraday representatives who introduced it, called it a car.
Who knows if it was, or whether it was just a prop.
An object on a stage, as any magician in Las Vegas can tell you, is whatever you tell the audience it is.
If it was a car – it even had a spiffy car-like name: FFZERO1 – it looked futuristic, at best, if not wildly impractical. Techies, who number in the hundreds of thousands at the CES show, feigned starry-eyed wonder. The handful of automotive writers here, who regularly report on the industry, seemed a bit harder to impress.
Faraday folks claimed the FFZERO1 was powered by batteries and electric motors that could propel it by the force of more than 1,000 horsepower. Accordingly, it could travel at over 200 m.p.h. – accelerating from a stop to 60 m.p.h. in less than three seconds, they added.
Those are big numbers – race car numbers – although not ground-breakingly big numbers. A Bugatti Veyron could top that – as far back as 2005. So this is not hot-off-the-presses new news, from a transportation standpoint. The FFZERO1 is allegedly meant to be a race car – it only has a seat for one occupant, after all – but there was no claim it has ever actually achieved such speeds. Or any speed, really. Who knows if it even runs? Was it driven, or pushed, onto the Vegas stage?
That’s the thing about auto show concepts and design studies; they are so often just flights of fancy: Ideas that have leaped off the drawing board (or computer screen). Pick a number – any number – and claim that is its capability. Dream up any powertrain – Ford once touted nuclear reactors in a future filled with flying Ranchero pickups – and promise a transportation revolution.
But what did Faraday really show here? What did Faraday intend to do, besides dazzle a gaggle of credulous tech fan boys? Where was the steak to go with the sizzle? Hard to say. Maybe time will tell. Maybe memory being as faulty and as fleeting as it is, people will soon forget such claims were even made.
Faraday, operating somewhat secretively from Gardena, California at this writing, says it plans to break ground soon on a billion-dollar manufacturing facility on a particularly desolate patch of desert north of Las Vegas. It claims it will hire more than 4,000 new workers and will start building cars there by sometime next year. Exactly when cars – finished cars, federalized to safety and emissions standards, ready for sale – will start rolling off the assembly line is much harder to pin down. The gestation period for competitors – Tesla comes to mind – has been years longer than originally projected.
But Faraday has only been around a couple of years, and already it claims a car like the FFZERO1 is an indication of how fast it can produce something from nothing. Or is it, in the case of the FFZERO1, merely nothing from nothing? That’s why I consider whether the FFZERO1 is really a car, or a merely a carbon fiber rabbit pulled out of a hat.