LAS VEGAS—Faraday Future has been a consistent presence at the Consumer Electronics Show over the past five years. Founded in 2014, the luxury electric automaker unveiled the FFZero concept car in 2016 and its all-electric FF91 in 2017, but has faced an uphill climb getting those vehicles on the road and into the hands of consumers.
Its founder, Chinese billionaire Jia Yueting, fled his home country to escape debt and is accused of misleading creditors and “dishonest” behavior by the U.S. Department of Justice. Yueting stepped down from Faraday as CEO in September, and has claimed that his own bankruptcy does not directly involve the company.
Faraday brought on Carsten Breitfeld, who led BMW’s i8 electric fleet, as CEO. At CES 2020, he told Adweek that the FF91 should be in production by the end of this year and that the company is taking reservations for orders.
Adweek got to take a ride along in the preproduction version of the FF91, which has been updated since its debut three years ago—and boasts an impressive range for an electric car.
While the La-Z-Boy-style zero gravity seats were comfortable, and the backseat’s widescreen overhead monitor was neat, the car had a few kinks, including some unresponsive sections. For example, the button to open the doors didn’t work on the first or second try. The backseat’s monitor opened perfectly, but showed glitches while closing.
Facial recognition software is enabled in every seat, bringing up a passenger’s profile that includes preferred temperature settings, seat controls and media preferences like Netflix shows, sports, and music.
The FF91 comes with its own voice assistant to orchestrate the car’s features. When we asked the FF for directions to a particular Brooklyn doughnut shop, the car responded with a directional map complete with Yelp reviews and photographs. While the preproduction model Adweek toured didn’t include the feature, a Faraday spokesperson said the finished model will have massaging technology in the rear seats.
The carmaker claims the FF91 has a range of 400 miles—though that may change once it goes into production. For reference, the Tesla Model 3 has a range of 325 miles.
Faraday expects to price the FF91 in a similar range to a Bentley, about $225,000, and that its primary markets will be the U.S. and China. The key difference between the two is that the Chinese market is expected to sit in the back of the FF91 and let a driver take control, while the U.S. customer is expected to be behind the wheel.
If and when the FF91 hits the streets, it’ll surely get attention, at least for its emphasis on luxury and technological integration. But, as is evident on the CES showroom floor, you can make a prototype of just about anything. It’s scale that proves challenging.