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Many observers at the CES said the front of Faraday Future's new FFZero1 concept, with its large tunnels, is the car's cleanest side.

Faraday Future unveils exotic “testbed” for new range of EVs

Faraday Future, the start-up Chinese EV maker that has been compared to Tesla Motors, at the 2016 CES in Las Vegas on January 5 unveiled its first concept vehicle that company executives called “a testbed for vehicles we’re working on.”

Called the FFZero1, the exotically styled, carbon-fiber-bodied machine—a “high performance electric dream car,” as it was presented to the audience—features interesting battery-pack design and capability to package one to four electric traction motors, delivering up to 1000 hp (746 kW) to two or four drive wheels, depending on configuration. An extended-range powertrain, with a combustion engine and hybrid drive, is also under consideration.

Connected-car and HMI technologies include broad use of gesture controls, augmented reality (AR), and integrated head-neck protection in the cockpit, which features two NASA “zero gravity” seats as pioneered in the auto industry by Nissan (see The vehicle is designed for autonomous operation, the executives noted, although the concept is fitted with a conventional steering wheel and electric steering.

The FFZero1 is based on a VPA (Variable Platform Architecture) that Nick Sampson, the company’s Senior Vice President of R&D and Engineering, said will be used for Faraday’s entire model range. In the media conference prior to the FFZero1’s debut, a video showed wireframe-like renderings of an SUV, sedan, people mover, and sports car.

The VPA features what appear to be identical front and rear suspension modules, each mounted on a lightweight cradle. Sampson, who led Tesla Model S development before joining Faraday, said the modular approach enables “larger and more protective” front and rear crush zones.

“VPA is a designer’s dream,” noted Richard Kim, Faraday’s Chief Designer who previously led BMW’s i Design Group on the i3 and i8 projects.

The battery technology consists of cell modules joined like a string—“like a set of Christmas tree lights,” Sampson said. By adding or subtracting strings of cell modules, and engineering in one, two, three, or four traction motors, Faraday planners can tailor a vehicle’s performance and efficiency characteristics, faster than achieved by traditional vehicle powertrain architectures, Sampson indicated.

Founded in 2014, Faraday Future has more than 500 employees working in various locations on a range of new EVs. Late last year the company selected a site in North Las Vegas, NV, for a new $1B manufacturing plant for a luxury electric car that would compete with the Tesla Model S and the upcoming wave of high-end EVs (see

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