Gone in 2.39 seconds: LeEco-backed Faraday unveils ‘world’s fastest’ electric car
The California-based start-up says the new FF91 can do 0 to 60mph in 2.39 seconds, parks itself and travels 700km on a single charge
Faraday Future, the US electric vehicle start-up backed by Chinese internet company LeEco’s billionaire founder Jia Yueting, has unveiled its first electric car, that the company claims is the fastest in the world, as it pits itself against rivals like Tesla.
The company says the FF 91 can go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in just 2.39 seconds, slightly faster than Tesla’s Model S vehicle that can manage the same in 2.5 seconds, and significantly quicker than Ferrari’s 488 GTB sports car, which takes 3 seconds.
The FF 91, which Faraday calls a “new species” of vehicle that will “reformat the future of mobility”, packs a peak power of 1,050 horsepower, the company said.
The car is fitted with a 130 kWh battery, which the company claims is the world’s highest density battery with a total range exceeding 700 kilometres per charge.
“There are companies that have shown great electric vehicles, but while these companies inspire us, what they are doing is a slight progression of where we’ve been before,” said Faraday senior vice president of engineering Nick Sampson at the FF 91 launch event on Tuesday evening in Las Vegas, ahead of the annual consumer electronics trade show, CES.
The FF 91 looks like a cross between a sedan and a sports utility vehicle, and bears little resemblance to the FFZero1 “Batmobile” concept car that Faraday unveiled in January 2016.
It comes with autonomous driving features, such as a “driverless valet” function that can be activated through Faraday’s mobile app. The app can command the FF 91 to find an available parking space to park itself, thanks to a 3D lidar - or light detection and ranging system - that works together with a host of sensors to help steer the car.
The FF 91 has a panel on the exterior that employs facial recognition technology for drivers to unlock their car, and allows the driverless parking function to be activated with a tap of a button on the panel.
Faraday conducted a live demonstration at the launch, in which a production model FF 91 roamed around a car park before backing itself into an empty parking space.
However, during another demonstration on stage by LeEco chief executive Jia Yueting, the FF 91 failed to drive itself to the centre of the stage and only did so after a technician entered the car to fix the problem.
Faraday is taking online reservations for the FF 91 from eager consumers who are willing to put down a refundable US$5,000 deposit, although it did not reveal a final price for the vehicle.
Despite the incomplete construction of Faraday’s factory in North Las Vegas, it claimed that the first 300 units will arrive by 2018.
Consumers in China can also place a deposit of 50,000 yuan to reserve a car on Faraday’s website, according to Claudius Meynert, the company’s chief representative in China.
LeEco is in a technology partnership with Faraday. Winston Cheng, LeEco’s global head of corporate finance and development, said in October that LeEco’s electric car, LeSee Pro, will use Faraday electric vehicle technology.
Speaking at a press event in Beijing on Wednesday morning, LeEco’s co-founder and vice chairman Hank Liu Hong said the debut of Faraday’s vehicle marks a milestone for both companies.
“The debut means our vision [for electric cars] comes true,” Liu said.
California-headquartered Faraday Future was reportedly facing a cash crunch following financial problems at LeEco. LeEco’s Jia said in an internal letter in November that the company’s external fundraising capabilities could not keep up with its rapid expansion plans.
Media reports stated that work on Faraday’s US$1 billion Las Vegas factory was halted following the company’s failure to make millions of dollars in payments on time to construction company AECOM as well as various suppliers.
Construction of the factory may resume in early 2017, AECOM said in a statement. Sampson declined to comment on Faraday’s financial status on the sidelines of the FF 91 launch, according to media reports.
A number of high-profile executives have left the company in quick succession, including Marco Mattiacci, the global chief brand and commercial officer, and Joerg Sommer, vice president of product marketing and growth.
At least six other executives in top positions in legal, finance, strategy, public relations and governmental affairs have left the company in recent months, according to automobile news site Jalopnik.