Today saw the debut of an upcoming contender in the luxury electric car market, the Faraday Future FF 91.
The company behind the new EV is a US-based, Chinese-backed startup and it has clearly taken aim at the kind of wealthy, techie types who have proven so keen on Teslas to date. And like a Model S or X it is a big, wide, heavy car with a huge battery and extreme performance.
In its current pre-production guise the FF 91 uses three electric motors – one at the front and two at the rear – to propel the car to 60mph in under 2.4 seconds. Faraday Future hasn’t yet published a kerb weight for its car, but the 2.5 tonnes of the Tesla Model X probably provides a useful benchmark.
The substantial mass of the 130kWh battery is carried in a flat box between the axles. The company quotes a range of 378 miles under the American EPA testing regime – usually a much more reliable figure than the 700km (435 miles) claimed under the optimistic European test.
The FF 91’s battery, engineered with help from Korea’s LG Chem, is said to provide “the world’s highest energy density”, though I wonder if that description was cooked up before the 43kWh Renault Zoe arrived. The French car employs cells from the same supplier, by the way.
Faraday Future says it will provide its car with a 15kW domestic charger, delivering twice today’s typical wallbox output, to fill the battery with 50% of its capacity in 4.5 hours. The company also says that its EV offers “the ability to charge at more than 500 miles per hour”. That presumably means a full 130kWh charge in under 60 minutes, which would require more than double the power offered by the beefy rapid chargers you’ll find at motorway services. The output required is in the same ballpark as a Tesla Supercharger, however, so the claim is not beyond feasibility.
From a styling perspective the FF 91 is much more adventurous than any Tesla, splicing off-road, coupé and people carrier cues into a mix that may take some getting used to. Surfaces are unfussy, with gentle curves and few creases, contrasting with extrovert flourishes like the shark-fin blade at the rear (which attaches at the car’s shoulder, separate from the rear pillar).
Another quirk is the horizontal bulge pressing outward from the sheet metal at waist height. Faraday Future chief designer Richard Kim has said this “UFO line” – reminiscent of 1950s flying saucers – will be a signature of FF designs.
Viewed from the rear the FF 91 looks like a sibling of the BMW i8, from the side it resembles the lovechild of an Isuzu Vehicross and a Renault Avantime, while the front is not entirely unlike the recently revealed Lucid Air electric car.
The FF 91’s rear passenger doors are hinged at the back, suicide style, and a digital interface has been mounted in the middle pillar so owners can unlock the car as they’d unlock a smartphone. Whether this system will prove a boon or a pain remains to be seen.
The new car is also set up for autonomous capability, with a forest of ultrasonic and radar sensors around its periphery, no fewer than 10 high-definition cameras plus a laser range-finder that rises up from the bonnet like BB-8’s head from the back of an X-Wing.
Lots of important details will no doubt arrive in time, chief among them the asking price. Keen customers prepared for a six-figure bill can slap down $5,000 today for a place in the queue. Production is due to start next year.