'New species' of electric supercar drives itself

Following a series of teasing tweets late last year, the California-based start-up finally unveiled the FF 91 at this month’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.
Billed as the fastest electric production car in the world — it goes from 0-60 mph in 2.39 seconds — the electric supercar also promises to be one of the most sophisticated autonomous vehicles on the road.

CNN’s Supercharged show caught up with Faraday Future’s design chief Richard Kim at CES, where he gave presenter Nicki Shields a guided tour of the car’s key design features.

Form follows function

A strip of light wraps around the front of the FF 91, drawing attention to the car’s aerodynamic shape.

“Aero is really important for range,” Kim explains. “The shape of the car can influence how far you can go without charging.”

Down below, the company’s slanted “FF” logo sits amid a mesh of lights that glow in different sequences depending on what the car is doing.

When it’s being recharged, the lights glow up and down. Put it into autonomous mode and the LEDs will pulse.

“People are very nervous about the safety of (driverless vehicles) but you’ll be able to tell if it’s in autonomous mode from the signaling at the front and side of the car,” Kim says.

360-degree coverage

A retractable 3-D LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) system located on the hood provides the visual centerpiece of the FF 91’s autonomous driving suite.

The 360-degree laser-based mapping technology is complemented by a small army of high-definition cameras, radars and ultrasonic sensors strategically positioned around the car.

On a scale of 1-5, the FF 91’s autonomy level is 4, Kim says.

“This car is not only the fastest electric production car, but it’s the most connected and has the best self-driving capability,” he adds.

The personal touch

Entry to the FF 91 is granted via a camera mounted in the central B-pillar. Facial recognition technology will not only activate the keyless entry system but also restore your personal settings inside the car’s luxurious interior, the company says.

Tap on the side of the car, and the gateway doors swing open to reveal a world more like first-class air travel than a four-seat hatchback — with reclining leather seats and an array of gadgets.

“In the old days of buying a car you would get in the driver’s seat and say: ‘Yes, I want it’ or ‘I don’t,'” Kim says. “Now we know with (the growth of) ride share and millennials who maybe aren’t as interested in driving that every seat in the house matters.”

Nicki Shields had an exclusive look inside the FF91 during her visit to CES. You can see what she thought of it in January’s Supercharged show on CNN International.