Faraday Future FF91: Far From Fully Baked

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ARS TECHNICA, Car and Transportation Tech, Start Up Tech, TECH, WRITING

PEBBLE BEACH, CALIF.—In a parking lot next to Peter Hay Hill sat two square-ish, blobby vehicles. They weren’t attractive, and they seemed both inordinately squat and huge, but there were plenty of looky-loos who wanted to check them out. One vehicle was a static “show car,” and when a man in pink pants and a polo shirt with a popped collar tried to find a way to open a door, a product specialist flapped him away. Truthfully, even if you could figure out a way to open the doors, there weren’t any handles to grab.

Plenty of people milled down the hill from where the more established automakers had taken up residence to stop and gawk at the pair of FF91 pre-production vehicles, one giving rides around the block in Pebble Beach traffic—mixing with Koeniseggs, McLarens, and Ferraris—and the other hulking across two parking spots, with the doors on the passenger side open to passers-by.

The weirdly shaped vehicle stood out in a sea of low-slung supercars crawling all over the bucolic, fog-shrouded Pebble Beach peninsula. The color of both the display and test vehicles was white, so they looked like refrigerators in a sea of praying mantises. I waited while another journalist took a ride around the block in the mobile pre-production FF91, the first and only vehicle from beleaguered California startup Faraday Future.

Riding along in the FF91

When it was my turn to hop in, the suicide doors swung open and the driver offered to let me sit in the back, where there was a pair of Barca-lounge-style seats in various states of repose.

The rear passenger-side seat was bent sharply forward, while the one behind the driver was nearly flat. I opted for the front passenger seat, where a wide touchscreen sat attached to the dash and showed off various streaming services you could presumably watch on the short drive around the block surrounding the Lodge at Pebble Beach. Advertisement

At the center of the dash sat another large vertical touchscreen. Here, the driver and passenger can control everything in the vehicle. The driver let me reset the rear seats to more comfortable and normal positions using this main touchscreen since there are no seat controls in the rear or the front.

Both Lucid and Faraday Future have tried to incorporate business-class-style airplane seats in the back of their EVs. Neither has been entirely successful so far.
Enlarge/ Both Lucid and Faraday Future have tried to incorporate business-class-style airplane seats in the back of their EVs. Neither has been entirely successful so far.Abigail Bassett

None of the controls worked, and a friend who came along with me on the ride was forced to sit with her knees nearly touching her chest in the forward-folded seat without the seatbelt buckled because the latch was buried somewhere between the armrest and the seat. The rear passenger seat on the driver’s side was also unresponsive when I tried to make it more upright, so the specialist who tagged along with us lounged in a more horizontal position. It was comical and bizarre.

As we got underway, pulling out behind a golf cart making its way to the Lodge, the FF91’s ride was smooth but unremarkable. The driver suggested that I lower the wide rear screen for the rear passengers, using the main vertical touchscreen at the center of the dash. Across the top of the infotainment screen, you have options for Quick, Doors, Energy, Lights, and Settings. I chose Quick, then found the toggle for the rear seat display. A screen the width of the roof of the vehicle dropped down jerkily from the ceiling, getting partially stuck about three-quarters of the way down. It finally lowered the whole way after a moment, and the driver quickly raised it back up.

Once we got outside of the Lodge grounds and turned into traffic, the driver offered to “punch it” to show off the vehicle’s power, but from the passenger seat, the shot of acceleration was underwhelming. The vehicle felt heavy and slow, especially considering that Faraday says the car has 1050 hp (783 kW) and does 0–60 mph in 2.39 seconds. Faraday spokespeople also said that the FF91 will get an EPA-rated range of around 350–400 miles (563–643 km) but wouldn’t disclose any information about their battery or battery partner at the event.

The driver continued to fiddle with settings on the main touchscreen, trying to force various settings to work, but even he couldn’t get the vehicle to respond. The infotainment system is Android-based, which usually works well—especially when it comes to voice recognition and controls.

The driver and spokesperson offered to show off the voice control when we arrived back at the drop-off location after a very short loop and asked the car to open the doors. There are door handles lodged in the armrest, with a touchscreen for different climate and seat settings (including a “massage” setting that also didn’t work), but since this is a vehicle of the future, why not open the doors with a voice command? Both the driver and the spokesperson gave it a go, and nothing happened. The voice recognition just spun uselessly, and the driver eventually resorted to using the main touchscreen to open all four doors at once.

I'm not sure a touchscreen is the best interface here anyway, but it needs to at least work.
Enlarge/ I’m not sure a touchscreen is the best interface here anyway, but it needs to at least work.Abigail Bassett

The most surprising thing about the pre-production FF91 was the fact that Faraday was showing it off at one of the premier automotive events in the world in such a state. The company says it has taken about 400 reservations for the FF 91, and at the time of our ride-along, spokespeople said customers could expect delivery of those vehicles by the end of the year. Given the state of the pre-production prototype I rode in at Pebble Beach, I’d say the chances of that are slim to none. The big vehicle did, however, garner a lot of attention from the younger generation, who were snapping selfies with the car and poking around the interior in between test rides. Advertisement

But wait… what is Faraday Future, anyway?

While I was surprised at just how bad the ride-along experience was, I should have expected many of the problems I experienced. After all, Faraday Future, the company behind the FF91, has flirted with bankruptcy so many times it’s hard to keep track. Faraday has been around since 2014 and showed off an early version of the FF91 in 2016, a year later than planned because it decided to bring a vaporware supercar to CES earlier that year. The FF91 was originally due for release last year. That window got pushed back because of funding issues.

Faraday has been plagued with problems since the beginning. Even after the company went public in July of 2021 through a SPAC merger that is currently being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice, it has continued to struggle along, missing both self-imposed deadlines and those set by the SEC.

Most recently, in Faraday’s July 8-K filing—which was late—the company noted a need for a massive cash infusion to simply keep the lights on through the end of the year and finally deliver its first vehicle, the FF91, to reservation holders. In mid-August, the company secured a $52 million cash infusion, with the option to receive as much as $600 million. And at the end of August, Faraday Future employees wrote a letter calling for the resignation of executive chairperson Sue Swenson, accusing her and other members of the board of trying to push the company into bankruptcy and restructuring.

Truthfully, the ride-along didn’t inspire much confidence that Faraday or its FF91 will be more than vaporware, at least in the near future. It’s difficult to create a new vehicle from scratch, but the FF91 is still very far from fully baked.

Read the complete story at ArsTechnica.

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Abigail Bassett is a full-time freelance journalist, content creator, and television, video, and podcast host whose work has appeared in publications like TechCrunch, Fast Company, Inc. Magazine, Forbes, Fortune, Motor Trend, Shondaland, Money Magazine, and on CNN. Her passion is telling unique stories that change the way we see, interact with, and relate to the world. She is also a Yoga Alliance Registered 500-hour yoga teacher.

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