Chinese-backed automotive startup Faraday Futures (FF for short) is quite possibly the most enigmatic company we’ve dealt with in recent years.
Aside from keeping the name of the company CEO a closely-guarded secret and until recently refusing to even disclose the name of its primary investors, FF has kept everyone guessing about what its revolutionary ‘Car of Concepts’ — its first production vehicle ever — really looks like. So far, FF has teased a few images, provided sound bites from its lead engineers and choice executives about how this unusual car will challenge the way we drive and think about car ownership, and promised that all will be revealed at a gala reveal event ahead of CES 2016.
But the very day we — and many other news outlets — have travelled to Las Vegas to attend tonight’s big reveal, an app-store faux pas has given us what is alleged to be the first photographs of this all-new car. And if stealing FF’s thunder wasn’t enough, it seems the company has just lost the man responsible for designing the car’s battery pack.
We’ll come to the departure of Porter Harris, the aforementioned executive, in a moment. But as eagle-eyed twitter user @supererogatory noted on Twitter earlier today, Faraday&Futures Inc had an app approved in the Apple iOS App store earlier today — one which seems to showcase a claimed “Faraday Future Concept” car.
The app itself, since removed from the Apple iOS App Store, was picked up by the automatic caching system at App Shopper. According to that site’s description, the app was originally described thusly on the Apple iOS App Store:
Say hello to the Faraday Future Concept.
This unique vehicle offers unprecedented performance through conscientiously crafted, state-of-the-art transportation technologies. This vision for this car was realized in record time through the pioneering collaboration of passion-fueled automotive experts and imaginative tech innovators.
Download the free Faraday Future Concept app to experience this concept vehicle and witness it come to life through augmented reality.
· Use “X-Ray Mode” to explore the cutting-edge technology hidden within the vehicle’s aerodynamic carbon fiber shell.
· Use “Driver View” mode to step into the driver’s seat and investigate car’s cutting-edge, technologically integrated interior.
· Use “Exploded View” mode to individually observe all of the car’s complex components and see how they’re designed to interact.
To bring this concept to life using augmented reality, point the camera at the sketch. To get your own sketch, head to www.faradayfuture.com/ces2016 to download and print your own. View the printed sketch through the app’s “Sketch Mode” to activate this app’s augmented reality features.
We at Faraday Future are extremely proud of this vehicle. Though we are not a racecar company, our concept shares its core design DNA with our forthcoming consumer line. The process of building this car inspired us, unlocked our imagination, and allowed us to pursue exciting new engineering objectives without restraint.
We hope you enjoy this glimpse into the future.
If the images shown on the site — and previewed in the video above — are indicative of what we can expect to see tonight, we can at least confirm one thing: we’ve never seen anything quite like it in the real world before.
Looking like a cross between a LMP single-seat race car and the Batmobile, the FF Concept appears to have a central driving position and no conventional doors. Instead, a glass dome canopy lifts up to grant access to the interior, a feature that reminds us of cars like the Sterling Nova and the Buick Wildcat I.
Quoted performance figures for the concept car are interesting: a 200-mile range, 1,000 horsepower from a quartet of electric motors (one driving each wheel) and 0-60 mph time of less than 3-seconds, putting it squarely in Tesla Model S territory.
As with any car however, there’s a big difference between a concept car and a real-world vehicle. It doesn’t matter how amazing a concept car is on paper: it has to deliver that in the real world in order to be a truly revolutionary vehicle.
But before you think we’re writing FF off, consider this: the company has said on multiple times that it is actually working on more than one car. The concept displayed this evening (or perhaps in the app) may not be the car that we’ll see enter into production. It’s possible that the car being displayed is actually a halo vehicle, designed to capture the imagination rather than specifically be a production vehicle.
For that reason, we’re holding off final judgement until later this evening, when we’ll see the FF Concept (or perhaps another car) in the metal for the first time.
If today’s leak wasn’t enough, another piece of news is likely to feature at tonight’s launch event, namely the departure of Porter Harris, FF’s battery designer.
As Bloomberg reported earlier today, Harris, who had previously worked at SpaceX under Elon Musk, joined FF some fifteen months ago to work on the battery technology which would power the enigmatic car. But some time in the past few weeks, Harris changed his current position on his LinkedIn profile.
Instead of listing Faraday Futures as his primary job, Harris now lists his title as being “CEO and Janitor” at “Lotus Research And Development.” The website for the same company shows Porter as the main contact, listing both an email address and telephone number for the engineer.
While Porter’s name no-longer appears on the Faraday Future site however, we do note that Porter lists on his LinkedIn profile as having worked for both companies simultaneously, leading us to believe that perhaps Lotus Research And Development has been something of a pet project for him alongside his work at Faraday Future.
If this is indeed the case, it may be that his departure was one timed because he wanted to focus on his own business, rather than for any more salacious reasons.
At the time of writing, FF has yet to officially comment on either the app leak or Porter’s departure. Porter also remains quiet on the subject.
In a little over seven hours however, we’ll find out a little more at the live FF launch event in Las Vegas which, as always, we’ll live blog. As always, as soon as we have the information, you will.
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