Future for Faraday Future

With CES and its string of shiny automotive announcements behind us, we are reflecting on some of the key announcements with a “reality lens”. As both an auto enthusiast and an analyst covering electric and autonomous vehicles, what most piqued my interest was the unveiling of Faraday Future’s FF91 model. Widely talked about – often for the company’s precarious financing – the FF91 is Farday Future’s first production vehicle and sole bet on survival. Its nearest competitor is the Silicon Valley darling and highly popular Tesla. It will additionally face stiff competition from traditional Detroit giants, premium brands from Germany and scale-driven players from Japan and Korea. The FF91 claims to deliver more performance and efficiency than any other EV present in the market today (at least on paper). Whether it is the long range, blistering acceleration, comprehensive connectivity or the fancy self-parking feature, the car is much more than it needs to be and serves as a display of the potential of the Faraday Future team. The promising features were demonstrated quite well at the CES unveiling event (though the self-parking demo failure will for sure haunt for some time!). One other negative, while beauty is in the eye of the beholder, few can find the FF91’s rather angular design more attractive than the svelte lines of the Tesla Model S.

Key features of FF91

  • Estimated EPA adjusted range of 398 miles with a massive 130 kWh battery pack.
  • A 0-60 MPH time of 2.39 secs making it one of the fastest production car on road (for when it will truly come on road).
  • Multiple LTE modems to provide uninterrupted connectivity.
  • Advanced driving assistance systems (LiDar, cameras, sensors) with a driver-less valet parking feature.
  • A claimed rear-seat reclining angle of up to 60 degrees making it one the most luxurious cars in terms of rear passenger space.

Now that I look back to the company itself I find that the FF91 may not be the product the company needs. Sure, it could be as technologically advanced as the Mars Rover, but the million-dollar question is, can it be mass produced by the company, on time, to meet consumer demands?

Faraday Future has been in the news for all the wrong reasons in 2016. Several high-level executive team exits and colossal debt the company has accrued, have started to add serious constraints to FF’s future growth prospects. Faraday Future is being ambitious with the FF91’s 2018 launch. Even a much more established, well-funded and publicly traded company like Tesla saw its launches delayed when it already had a manufacturing plant. Whereas, Faraday Future is still taking baby steps towards completing its manufacturing plant in Nevada, amidst the financial crunch the company is facing. Looking at the specification list on its first production vehicle it is surely going to be an expensive vehicle, above the 140,000 USD mark, which will make it a tough decision for the buyers (though not so tough that several thousand made down payments of USD 5,000 in pre-orders). The high-end features will also lead to complicated manufacturing processes and a high dependency on suppliers to be able to provide the parts needed for the vehicle.

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First things first, the company needs get its act together to have a stable executive team. Secondly, successfully attract investors to help FF build its dream and vision. And finally sell cars at scale to make money to secure its long term existence (or at least long enough for it to be acquired).

The glimpse of potential showcased at CES might help FF gain some confidence and entice some of the investor community who are looking to build a Tesla competitor.

Expected Price, key competitors of FF91

  • The FF91 with all its features will be an expensive pick at an expected price point of above 140,000 USD. I suspect that like Tesla, FF will come out with variants of FF91, offering lower battery pack options and moderating some other features to create a range of price points.
  • In 2018, when the FF91 is expected to launch the main competitor for it will not only be the luxurious Tesla Models S and X but will also be the Model 3; being offered at a much lower price than previous Teslas.
  • The availability of affordable mass produced EVs from the conventional automakers like GM, Ford and others will also not work in FF’s favor.

During its launch in 2018, the FF91 will be competing in the electric car market with much cheaper car offerings with sufficient features from the already established automotive players. Companies like Tesla, GM and others by announcing cheaper vehicles with effective range like the Model 3 and Bolt EV are not making it easy for EV startups. Faraday Future needs to come up with a production version that is close to reality and easy to manufacture with less complicated technology so that there is no delay due to manufacturing complications, supply-chain or testing crunch. Positioning with just premium luxury version might not cut it, a lighter version of FF91 alongside would be more prudent to maximize its prospects as the EV industry enters the “early majority” phase.