By: IOL & AP Staff
Las Vegas, Nevada - The automotive future, according to a new electric carmaker, looks a lot like a Corvette crossed with the Batmobile.
California-based Faraday Futures debuted its sleek electric concept racing car on Monday night at the annual CES show that focuses on consumer gadgets and has increasingly become a way for carmakers to show off their latest gizmotronics.
The Faraday FFZero1 concept is built on a modular base called variable platform architecture; it has a 185kW electric motor at each wheel, delivering a total of more than 730kW without the need for gearbox, clutches or differentials.
More importantly, it allows for front or rear-wheel drive derivatives by simply leaving out the motors you don't want.
The concept is a fully functional runner, allegedly capable of 0-100 in three seconds flat and a top speed of more than 320km/h, and has state-of-the art autonomous driving functions.
Since the FFZero1 is a track-day only car, it has an LMP1-styled cockpit that accommodates one person in comfort, sitting at 45 degrees 'to improve comfort and blood circulation' in a special NASA-designed seat.
“It's an extreme tablet on wheels,” said Faraday head of design Richard Kim. “It has a smartphone docking station in the steering wheel and can project images on the road like a 'digital co-pilot'.
“There are tunnels below the car to funnel air through, while the clear tail-fin running half the length of the car doubles as a display.
“It's a car of concepts, rather than a concept car.”
OUT OF THE BLUE
The 18-month-old Chinese-backed company has remained much of a mystery until recently revealing plans to build a $1 billion (R15.6 billion) plant in Las Vegas.
Faraday senior vice-president for research and development Nick Sampson emphasised the speed at which it plans to develop and build cars, saying the company would deliver its first production car in a couple of years - even though it was still shopping for a battery supplier.
He said it would use digital design and testing of parts and completely modular construction to make it quicker than competitors.
“You don't need to have a hundred-year legacy in the automotive industry to define how the next generation of transportation needs to look and feel,” Sampson said, taking a stab at traditional carmakers, and comparing the future of cars to the debut of the Apple iPhone nine years ago - which made a number of cellphones obsolete overnight.
NOT AN EASY ROAD
Creating a profitable electric car company hasn't been easy even for one of the most well-known in the marketplace. Tesla has only made a quarterly profit once since it was founded in 2003. And traditional automakers have been using modular design and augmented reality in development for years.
Sampson said the difference was that Faraday, like Tesla, would be designing only electric cars, unlike other car-makers that might have to spend more time developing a design to accept a combustion or hybrid powertrain.