Although Google and Tesla get almost all the media attention when it comes to futuristic cars, other companies are beginning to catch up. For example, six others, including Volvo and Scania, joined forces this month to demonstrate that trucks could drive themselves thousands of kilometers across Europe.
Now Faraday Future, a relatively nascent electric car company based out of California, is making the headlines, as it’s planning to invest $1 billion in the construction of its Las Vegas production plant. With an additional funding pledge of $335 million by the government of the state of Nevada, $215 million of which involves tax breaks, the company hopes to have its first electric cars flying off the production line by 2018.
The company, which is backed by Chinese venture capitalist Jia Yueting, currently has 700 employees, but it's hoping to employ more than 5,000 by the end of the decade. Although it hasn’t manufactured any buyable cars just yet, the concept vehicle was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this January, and it looks a little like a modified Batmobile.
The groundbreaking ceremony at the site in Nevada. Faraday Future
The 1,000 horsepower electric engine in FFZero 1 features aerodynamic tunnels designed to reduce air resistance. Many of its components are made of carbon fiber, a lightweight and strong material, and reduces the overall drag on the vehicle. It’s said to contain self-driving technology to rival both Google and Tesla’s, and can accelerate from zero to 100 km/h (60 mph) in just under three seconds.
This new plant, which will be situated near Tesla’s own Gigafactory manufacturing plant, will aim to produce the vehicle and its mechanical descendants with ruthless efficiency. “Our aim is to complete a program that would normally take four years and do it in half the time, while still doing it right,” said Dag Reckhorn, Faraday Future global manufacturing vice president, as reported by the Telegraph.
The FFZero 1 concept car. Faraday Future
The plant will be environmentally friendly, and will put a strong focus on energy efficiency and contemporary design. “We will be utilizing solar, wind, and geo-thermal energy to power this environmentally conscious endeavor,” the company said in a statement. “High-quality, sustainably sourced parts, shipped to this facility from Tier-1 suppliers all over the world, will be coalesced and crafted into our upcoming line of production vehicles.”
Only time will tell if it begins to chip away at the dominance of Google and Tesla. Either way, it’s a good time to be a car manufacturer that's focusing on self-driving capabilities: The Obama administration recently pledged to invest $4 billion into this fledgling technological field.