Category Archives: Faraday Future

FF has 60 paid orders for its SUV*

So says this credible piece by Business Insider. It’s all over, folks. But be careful in your wording. You can’t say FF is about to evaporate, because it was pure vapor all along. You can’t say it’s going to crash and burn, because it never moved. You can’t say the operation will grind to a halt, because there never was an operation to grind.

It’s tempting to write this post in the past tense, but someone wrote about Tesla in the past tense in 2011, and boy has he lived to regret it. Yes, all three of his readers really let him have it. TeslaMondo has at least double the readership, so we’re talking high journalistic stakes here.

Nissan CEO Count Carlos recently described the high barrier of entry for automotive startups. The castle walls are indeed high, and the moat wide. Dead bodies abound. But FF had such a vast army, such deep pockets and such a grandiose takeover plot, that some of us really bought into the notion of a Chinese invasion. To see the company face down in the moat, weapons floating away — well, it’s a blow to any other Chinese-backed squad hoping to establish a beachhead in the US. That means you, Fisker.

*And unfortunately for FF, all 60 customers checked the box that says, “I want mine to work.”

Faraday Future’s Gong Show performance breaks the cringe-o-meter

Now that we know more about FF, thanks to last night’s extravaganza, we can do some comparisons between FF and Tesla.

  1. Tesla’s CEO is legitimately involved in product development and production. In fact, he famously sleeps on the factory floor sometimes. FF’s CEO knows so little about the product that he was given an onstage walk-around tour of the FF91 last night, as if he were a prospective customer. If he really doesn’t know the product, he’s a fool. If he was merely feigning ignorance, he’s a bigger fool.
  2. Tesla’s execs aren’t rousing speakers, but when they talk, people hang on every word because there’s much to be learned. FF’s execs say 200% more words with 200% less content. And then there’s the language barrier . . .
  3. Musk and Straubel come across as affable, approachable — the kind of guys you wouldn’t mind having dinner with. FF’s CEO is unknowable.
  4. Tesla’s vehicles look like other vehicles, for good reason. Says Tesla’s design chief: “If we created the Jetsons-mobile, we would have catered to the early adopters and stopped right here.” So far, FF’s products look like Jetson-mobiles. Who knows — maybe the world is now ready for that step. We’ll see.
  5. Tesla’s factories, charging network, suppliers, stores, service centers, stockholders, customers, vehicles and employees actually exist. FF has none of those basics, except the employees. But the employees are at high risk of not returning from their lunch breaks.
  6. During Tesla’s Model X unveiling, a door popped open after being closed. Musk re-closed it and moved on like nothing had happened. FF’s vehicle failed to drive away when commanded by the golly-gosh CEO. That’s a much bigger gaffe. It darkens the cloud that’s been hanging over FF for months. One can imagine the recently-departed execs shaking their heads and asking aloud, “See why I left?”

FF survives 2016 with Velcro and tape

Construction contractors are balking. Landlords are squawking. Bigwigs are leaving. The seat supplier is fleeing. The vending machine contractor refuses to re-stock the machines, forcing employees to ration the few remaining bags of Cheetos. Someone stole the knobs from the toaster oven in the break room, forcing the staff to guess the temperature settings and putting them at risk of overheating their leftovers.

Such is the state of Faraday Future as CES 2017 approaches. TeslaMondo would like to see someone jump the rope at the FF display and tug on the body panels a little, just to see what happens.

TeslaMondo predicted FF would throw in the towel and ditch its US plans by year’s end, but nope. There are no towels to throw. The towel supplier skipped town and slipped an overdue bill under the back door.

So TeslaMondo was wrong.

But Andrew Left, a.k.a. Citron Research, didn’t fare any better with his boldest prediction for 2016. He called Mobileye the short of the year. Well, let’s see. The stock opened the year at 42.28 and ended the year at 38.12. Granted, it dipped to 24.54 early in the year — but the entire market dipped in unison, so that doesn’t count. Looking back a little further, Left misjudged Tesla’s “real competition” too. His chosen example, the BMW i3, proved a particularly bad choice, as the entire BMW i-team jumped ship.

Just remember, Left isn’t always right.

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Hubris Interruptus: FF stops pushing dirt

Funny-Shaped Future has halted its Nevada factory construction — or, rather, the construction company has done so — while FF reassesses its fast-evaporating puddle of money. Nevada’s treasurer just told Reuters that FF is a “Ponzi scheme.” At this point, knowing the company is on such tenuous turf, who would risk $$ by buying an FF vehicle? The company should just put the soil back where it was and go away. TeslaMondo predicts it will do just that before year’s end.

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See that groundbreaking ceremony? Who knew that seven months later, those three shovels full of dirt would represent about half of FF’s total progress? Yes, three shovels, not four. Gov. Sandoval, in a masterstroke of frugality, decided to save on dry-cleaning costs by not shoveling anything.

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Funny-shaped future also reeks anew

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“I spend, therefore I am.” Not in the car biz, buddy.

Faraday Future, the Chinese dark horse with grandiose plans to out-Tesla Tesla, is doing just that — in the cash burn contest. And yet it hasn’t built a car, and it’s barely started building its factory. The company chief now admits he’s running out of dough, so he’s forfeiting his salary in a symbolic show of “going down with the ship” to salvage his rep.

Would you buy a car from a Chinese media conglomerate anyway? Especially a “connected” car? Faraday Future has no future and is running out of present. When the company fails, it will make credibility all the more elusive for the Chinese-backed crew trying to resurrect the mighty Whisker Karma.

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Faraday Future’s Funky Funding

Once again, FF is making headlines for failing to pay bills. This is the third time.

Once

Twice

Three Times

This doesn’t set the tone for trust between FF and the myriad component suppliers it will need to build cars. The check is in the mail from China, eh? There’s something shady about this company. Literally.

Buff words, but what about delivery?

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 9.51.31 AMDouble the performance, half the price. That’s what Jia Yueting says he’s going to deliver in a few years. If he’s talking about doubling Model S performance, this means the LeEco Let’s See, and perhaps a US version from its Faraday Future brand,* will cost roughly $40k, hit 60mph in two seconds, get a 10-star NHTSA rating, travel about 600 miles per charge and carry 10 adults and four children. Or maybe Yueting is talking about doubling the performance and halving the price of the average ICE car, not a Tesla. And only in the Chinese market. Yes, that must be it.

Still, this evokes the bluster from Lu Guanqiu, chairman of Wanxiang, a couple years ago. Remember him? He’s the Chinese money behind the reborn Fisker. Not the Corvette/Fisker rebirth** involving Bob Lutz and Fisker himself, but the other rebirth involving Fisker’s assets and assembly plant. Confused? No shit. Anyway, here’s a direct quote from Guanqiu in 2014: “I’ll put every cent that Wanxiang earns into making electric vehicles. I’ll burn as much cash as it takes to succeed, or until Wanxiang goes bust.” Ok, let’s fast-forward to 2016. Supposedly a new US-built Fisker car, a hybrid, is coming this summer. In China, the company has a trial run underway for electric buses. If things don’t work out for him, says Guanqiu, his son and even his grandson will continue trying to build cars. TeslaMondo doubts they will share this Quixotic motivation to build cars if gramps blows the family fortune on it.

Fisker owner plots comeback

The US isn’t immune from verbal grandiosity. Ford CEO Mark Fields slapped his chest a couple years ago too, saying Ford, not Tesla, would make EVs “attainable to the masses.” That’s not very grandiose, you say? Well, it’s grandiose compared to what Ford has actually done since then, which is nothing. Just a few days ago, Ford said it will stick to 100 miles of range instead of the 200ish pegged by its rivals. Not because Ford lacks the technology. Heck no. It’s for two other reasons. First, 100 miles is the consumer’s real “sweet spot” that only Ford understands. And second, because more range would require a bigger, costlier and heavier battery pack. In other words, Ford lacks the technology and is defaulting to compliance-car mentality, thereby forfeiting the game that Fields talked about winning. Who is going to buy a 100-mile Ford for anywhere near the same dough as a 200-mile Bolt or Leaf? Or Tesla? Nobody, and that’s probably how Ford wants it. Ditto for FCA, except they admit it.

Compared with these guys, Musk sounded borderline humble three years ago. Skip to 27:55 here: “If the big car companies see that our sales are good, and that we’re actually taking a little bit of market share — I mean we’re a tiny company, so a drop in the bucket — but if they see how people are buying these cars, they will have no choice but to conclude that electric cars are the right way to go, and that will accelerate the transition to sustainable transport.” Little did he know that even in 2016, many big auto companies, even the ones hemorrhaging market share to Tesla, would be just starting to come around to the reality that they have no choice.

*Confused? TeslaMondo is. Not just about Yueting’s goal, but about the branding strategy among FF, LeSEE, Yueting, LeEco etc. The company needs to shed this alphabet soup pronto, or hope the moniker “FF” catches on here in the US. Otherwise the company will be unsearchable, unmemorable, unmarketable, and known as simply “That Chinese company,” and that’s surely what the company does not want given the overwhelmingly negative connotation ’round these parts.

**This WSJ piece about the new Fisker leaves out Bob Lutz’s effort entirely. Why?

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Our Funny-Shaped Future starts now

Newcomer Faraday Future achieved a Hurculean feat yesterday by talking for over an hour without saying anything remotely meaningful. We learned only:

  • The first syllable is pronounced “fair.”
  • The company’s core is its “super electric ecosystem project.” Certainly sounds super, not to mention electric.
  • The lead singer, Graham Bonnet, wears shades indoors and comes across like a car salesman instead of an alter-Musk.
  • The company incessantly uses the term “connected” to describe its forthcoming vehicles. But with Chinese entertainment firm LeEco behind the curtain at FF, totally beholden to the Chinese government like all Chinese businesses, how “connected” do you want to be? Does an intimate electronic relationship with China turn you on?

In sum, here’s the current state of FF: No battery supplier. No charging network. No bespoke prototypes that move under their own power. No testing except for retrofitting gas cars with new internal organs and seeing what happens.

Farady Future concept car TeslaMondo

But within two years, sang Bonnet, we’ll marvel at a finished factory spitting out revolutionary transportation for the masses. And somewhere in that narrative, there’s room for a Batmobile aimed at the woefully overlooked crustacean community.

Right-O!

TeslaMondo wants Tesla to lead a large segment instead of a small one, so all EV entrants are welcome. But FF is off to a WTF start. And the Chinese provenance will prove a constant pedigree problem, at least here in the US, as expounded here.

Other headlining EV efforts, such as Apple’s Titanic project, GM’s Re-Volt and Porsche’s Mission Eventually have no such pedigree problem to overcome. And those people know enough to ditch the shades during press conferences.

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Faraday Future a farce?

It’s starting to look that way. After unveiling a non-marketable, non-functional electric race car exoskeleton instead of the automobile 2.0 it promised, a few eyebrows moved upward to askance position. Now we read that even insiders don’t know exactly what’s going on. FF’s secrecy is starting to look more like a simple lack of anything to show us. Even its self-promoting video, aptly called “What If?,” has no FF product in it. Just highway overpasses.

Leaving something to the imagination worked in The Blair Witch Project and Rosemary’s Baby. But it’s starting to wear thin here. Time for FF to show us something, lest we assume this “What If” company will never escape the subjunctive tense.

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Three awkward starts for 2016

Awkward start 1: The stock market. China’s economy could be contracting, eh? And this means a worldwide depression, collapse of Tesla, and a starving populace gnawing at those Tesla leather scraps that were supposed to serve as iPhone cases, right? Pass the salt.

Awkward start 2: Model X’s agonizingly slow ramp. But congrats to Tesla for moseying out of the gate despite immense pressure to run like hell. Model X will soon fall into the salacious hands of Consumer Reports and Edmunds.com. Model S dysfunction caused coitus interruptus for both outlets. Model X needs to steer these media affairs to a satisfying climax every time.

Awkward start 3: Funny-Shaped Future (FF). Raise your hand if you expected an alternative — not a market-ready alternative, but at least a conceptual alternative — to Tesla products. Instead we got a wholly unmarketable race car and some talking points about modularity in battery design and platform. All quite cool, and a nice invitation to ponder the high limits of interchangeability in electric platforms, but hardly a material imposition on Tesla. Indeed, FF’s ploy is no farther along than Mission Eventually by Porsche. However, FF has successfully imposed on Tesla in Google searches this morning. If you Google “Tesla” and filter to the last 24 hours, you’ll see FF’s car. Mission accomplished, FF! And you’ve joined the list of “Watch out Tesla” headlines too.

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