Faraday Future's New Car Looks Like the Batmobile but It's Not a Tesla Killer

As electric and autonomous vehicles become more prevalent, 18-month-old Faraday Future thinks it can help reshape the future of transportation and mobility.

The company, which drew its 750 global employees from Tesla Motors (TSLA) (the company it's been most compared with), Apple (AAPL) , Jaguar, BMW, Alphabet's Google  (GOOGL) and a host of others, believes its speed and unique technology can help reshape the transportation world.

The company already has signed up key investors, including LeTV -- known as the Netflix of China -- to help aid it in the world's most populous country. It's also getting ready to break ground on a manufacturing facility in Las Vegas.

In a couple of years, Faraday (or FF for short), hopes to have its first production vehicle on the road. By contrast, it took several years for Tesla to get its Roadster on the road and nine years to get the Model S on the road, though that's still light years compared to the stodgy automotive industry.

"Our business model isn't just on selling cars," said Nick Samspon, Faraday's vice president of R&D, at a press conference at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. "It's about bringing connected mobility to users around the world."

The company credits its speed not only to testing in virtual reality but to its variable platform architecture, or VPA. 

The VPA, which Faraday executives gushed over (and which elicited some light applause from the crowd, but nothing earth-shattering), can help change the body, battery size, drive configuration and number of motors much more easily than is traditional in the automotive world.

"It's [the VPA] optimized for electric vehicles," Sampson said. "It dramatically reduces the time to market and cuts costs."

While Faraday isn't going to stomp on Tesla anytime soon -- particularly after Tesla just announced it delivered more than 17,000 Model S and Model X vehicles in the fourth quarter -- it is ambitious in its plans and designs.

Richard Kim, the company's lead designer, showed off the FFZero1, the company's concept car (but don't call it that!). It looks strangely like the Batmobile in 1989's Batman.


Kim said the car was designed from the inside out, with a cockpit and seat area that was inspired by NASA (yes, that NASA) to help maximize the circulation and comfort. There's even an oxygen and water supply in the head and neck area to help the driver, along with a state-of-the-art helmet for the race car, which was also designed in-house.

The FFZero1 even comes with augmented reality to be shown on the road as a digital co-pilot, and a smartphone docked in the steering wheel. Kim likened it to "an extreme tablet on wheels." (Sadly, there was no mention of whether it comes with its own Alfred Pennyworth or if it can hunt down the Joker).

Even though we won't see the FFZero1 on the road anytime soon, it's a testament to automotive innovation. Companies like Faraday, Tesla, Google, Uber and others are up-ending what we think about cars.

However, Faraday isn't quite ready to kill Tesla just yet, so Elon Musk can breathe a little easier today.

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