Faraday Future, the electric vehicle offshoot of Chinese entertainment to electronics group LeEco, is ringing in the new year with the public reveal of its first production vehicle, the FF91, at CES in Las Vegas on Tuesday. The vehicle was first unveiled at an exclusive event prior to the show.
The FF91 is equipped with FF EcoSystem, a system that provides a personalized entertainment experience for drivers and passengers alike, giving access to a blend of the user’s favorite content and applications, including music and movies.
Its interior cameras also use facial recognition to automatically regulate settings to rider’s preferences. The facial recognition technology, called Arrival Interface, learns about each rider and their habits, reading individual’s moods and facial expressions and auto-prompting an experience to match, using music, temperature, massage and more.
“Ladies and gentlemen, the FF 91 will usher in a new age of connected vehicles, and break down the boundaries of what a vehicle can and will be,” Nick Sampson, SVP of product research and development, told the crowd. “This mindset is deeply rooted in the soul of our company in creating a new age also for car buying. In owning an FF 91 you’ll be joining a new alliance to ignite technology revolutions and protect the planet Earth.”
The assembled CES crowd was shown a live self-parking demonstration and pre-recorded video footage of a speed test on a closed road. The car clocked 0 to 60 mph on 2.39 seconds, out accelerating the Tesla Model S, which achieved the mark in 2.5 seconds. Faraday Future executives did not disclose a price tag for the on-road FF91. But they said that they would begin to accept $5,000 deposits ahead of production, which is due to begin in 2018.
The car’s apparent viability may bolster the group’s financial fortunes. These have recently been dented by the financial woes that Le Eco disclosed at the end of October. At that time, group CEO and co-founder Jia Yueting admitted that the group had over-expanded and not sufficiently focused on profitability. Jia said that he would voluntarily cut his monthly salary to just $0.14 (RMB1.)
Since October there have been staff cuts in China, Hong Kong and India. Financial sector media have recently reported that LeEco’s LeShi Internet Information & Technology division is now close to raising some $1.4 billion (RMB10 billion) of fresh capital. Some reports said that a large proportion would come from a mainland Chinese insurance firm.
Separately, sources close to the group have also indicated that Faraday Future is poised to announce a $1 billion of Series A capital raising exercise of its own.
Jia is also backing LeCar, a car making venture in China, and Lucid Motors (previously Atieva,) which makes batteries. Chinese state-media reported that LeEco broke ground on a car factory in Zhejiang Province, China in the last week of December.
Disclosure: Faraday Future is supplier of powertrain equipment to Dragon Racing, the Formula E race team owned by Jay Penske, whose Penske Media Corporation is Variety’s corporate owner.