Back at the start of January we, along with a large selection of the world’s media, crammed ourselves into a temporary marquee in a parking lot in Las Vegas ahead of the official start of CES 2016 to witness the unveiling of what we assumed would be Faraday Future’s first production car.
Instead, the enigmatic California startup (backed by billionaire Chinese businessman Jia Yueting) unveiled a full-size mockup of the FFZERO: an impossible concept car that was meant to demonstrate what the company hoped to one day achieve but which it admitted looked nothing like the car it wanted to bring to market by the end of next year.
Since then, we’ve heard little from the company, save for a grandiose groundbreaking ceremony at the site of its first U.S. factory north of Las Vegas, Nevada, the granting of several patents to the company by the U.S. Patents and Trademarks Office, a few tightly-guarded tours of its headquarters for auto industry insiders and electric car advocates, and a steady stream of new hires making their way to Faraday Future from Tesla and other big-name automakers.
But two days ago Everrete Taylor — who happens to be the VP of marketing at on-demand car rental service Skurt — posted a picture in his Twitter stream that made the automotive industry sit up and take notice.
There’s a new vehicle in LA 🌿👀🌿 pic.twitter.com/h21ZjCT3rg
— Everette Taylor (@Everette) August 22, 2016
The photo in question shows an unidentified vehicle in standard automotive industry camouflage, with pretty much all of its body hidden from view. While this makes it hard to discern any big details from the shot, the size of the vehicle, its large wheels, and rear hatch suggest we’re looking at a crossover SUV or GT-style car with plenty of room for luggage. On the roof, not covered by camouflage, we can see what looks to be a very shiny roof line that could potentially mimic Tesla’s panoramic glass roof on the Model S.
Sadly, there’s little else to discern from the image or indeed, confirm that we’re looking at a test mule for Faraday Future. But according to our friends over at Autobloggreen, that’s exactly what it is, having confirmed with a source close to the automaker that such a vehicle is being put through its paces in an around LA ahead of a public debut.
While the shot tells us very little, it does at least confirm that Faraday Future has moved out of its initial engineering phase — where it was testing its own electric drivetrain in other automakers’ cars — and into a phase where it is testing its own custom-made vehicles on the road.
Of course, having a car on the road does not necessarily mean Faraday Future is close to bringing it to market: the usual production test cycle for a car includes between twelve and eighteen months of heavy development before final pre-production prototypes are ready. And while Faraday Future has boasted numerous times about possessing what it needs to slash that development time dramatically, we’re certain it will fall foul of the same hurdles that any other new startup automaker suffers — including Tesla — such as quality control issues, engineering challenges and dealing with parts supplier delays.
What do you make of this new spy shot? Do you think Faraday Future will revolutionize the auto industry? Will it beat Tesla? Or is it simply another company that will quickly succumb to the challenges of being a successful car company?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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