Since its launch in 2014, transportation startup Faraday Future has been known mostly for stealth and mystery.
At CES 2016, the electric car maker rolled out its concept car, the FFZero1. This year, the company returned to Las Vegas to unveil its first vehicle that will be available for purchase, the FF 91 -- which you can reserve now if you happen to have a spare $5,000 lying around.
The company says that the battery-operated car has 12 sensors, 10 HD cameras and can go from zero to 60 mph in 2.39 seconds. It boasts features such as facial recognition, keyless entry, zero-gravity seats, high-speed internet and the ability to park itself. But that last one caused some trouble at Faraday’s big CES presentation this week.
Halfway through the hour presentation, Hong Bae, Faraday Future’s director of ADAS (advanced driving assistance systems) and self-driving took to the stage to demonstrate the FF 91’s driverless valet feature, with a backdrop behind him that said “never worry about parking again.”
“Imagine you have a very important meeting to go to and you are running late. You rush to the office and the parking lot looks full. You don’t have 10, 15 minutes to look for a space,” Bae said, setting the scene. “Wouldn’t it be great if you could just come out of the car, bring your phone out, activate self-parking and the vehicle starts driving itself and looking for a parking spot?”
In the parking lot, the car’s performance was a little plodding, but it successfully backed into the spot selected by John Jay Lee, the mayor of North Las Vegas who was on hand to help do the honors.
However, the car’s big reveal onstage left a little to be desired. Jia Yueting, a Chinese billionaire who is Faraday’s main investor, drove up amid music and flashing lights. When Yueting hopped out of the car, Nick Sampson, the company’s senior vice president of research and development, prompted him to press the button that would initiate the car’s self-parking feature.
And then nothing happened.
The mishap was certainly embarrassing, especially given all the hype leading up to the big moment. Faraday has designs on rivaling Tesla, right down to poaching that company’s former employees. It also was in the news this fall when work had to be stopped on its $1 billion factory in Nevada (though construction is slated to commence again this year).
Sometimes glitches and mistakes happen, but the Faraday leaders remained composed, kept things moving and said what they wanted to say, even though the outcome wasn’t ideal.