I’m Yousaf, I’m a junior, and I really really like cars. And by really like cars, I mean I watch videos on how engines work when I want to procrastinate on econ problem sets (sorry Professor Bhanot), to read Car and Driver/Road and Track/Motor Trend articles more than political science ones, daydream about which cars I’d pick if I could only have three, and frequently make F1 car sounds when I get a little carried away. (I also have a YouTube channel about cars; maybe I’ll do a shameless self plug later on in the semester). The point is, I love to drive cars, I love to learn about cars, I love to look at cars, and I love to tell other people about cars and how much I love them. Which is why I’m writing this a few hours before my deadline. What could possibly go wrong, right?
So why do I love cars, and why should you even give a damn about them? From a young age, I had an affinity for cars and for driving. I remember becoming addicted to Gran Turismo 4, a driving simulation video game, at the age of nine years old. I would spend hours trying to get advanced driving licenses and winning races so I could add upgrades to my car, a Honda Prelude. While my free time for videogames decreased as I got older, I retained a general interest in cars. My obsession truly started to develop in high school, when we became old enough to get a driver’s license, and the dream of driving finally became a reality. Around that time, I started watching car videos, mostly Motor Trend videos on YouTube.
From that point on, I quickly became obsessed with the world of cars: zero to 60 mph times, various types of engines, types of transmissions, the fastest cars in the world, world-famous racetracks, and car reviews, just to name a few.
What I realized was that cars are more than just a form of transportation. They are highly intricate, beautiful machines that are composed of thousands of moving parts working together to create movement. And on top of that, automakers have a bunch of other factors to consider too. They have to try to make the car look beautiful while also meeting numerous safety regulations and ensure the car is aerodynamically efficient. The cars must have to meet environmental regulations. Automakers have to make sure the car works in all conditions, from freezing cold to absurdly hot and anything in between. They have to make sure the car can be reliable and run for thousands and thousands of miles without any major problems. And that’s just the “functional” part — the interior, electronics, and other parts are incredibly important as well when it comes to car design. The list goes on and on. Think of all the parts that are either working behind the scenes or that you use only occasionally: windshield wipers, air conditioning, the odometer, and much more. Long story short, even the most humble of cars is a moving marvel of engineering, and when you recognize that, that’s when you see the magic. That’s the magic I’m trying to show you, and that’s why you should care.
Anyhow, I talked to some cool people at the Phoenix and I was like “hey, would it be cool if I write about cars?” and they were like “yeah, dude, totally.” So now I’m writing about cars for the Phoenix. What I plan to do in the very near future is to start a column about cars on campus. I’m super creative, so it’ll probably be called Cars on Campus. It’s like Humans of New York, but for cars. And it’s not New York. I’d like to profile anything from student cars, to the SwatVans, to those little cars that Maintenance drives around campus on the walkways. The owners and drivers of these cars may also be included in the story. A car is nothing without someone to drive it and/or own it. For now though, I’ll tell you about a new, totally bonkers electric car that was released quite recently. Most importantly — it’s not a Tesla.
On Jan. 3, a rather young electric vehicle company, Faraday Future, unveiled its first production-ready vehicle, the FF91, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The much-anticipated launch of the FF91 signaled a new era for the EV market, which up to this point, has been largely been dominated by Tesla. The FF91 showcased a variety of performance and autonomous driving technologies that aim to compete directly with those of Tesla.
First thing’s first: performance figures. The FF91 is powered by a total of three electric motors that are fed by a 130.0 kWh battery pack. Overall, the electric motors put out an incredible 1,050 horsepower, which according to Faraday Future, gets the car to 60mph in 2.4 seconds, making it the fastest production EV to date. For comparison, a Lamborghini Aventador, which costs near half a million dollars, reaches 60mph in 2.8 seconds. A Tesla Model X P90D does the same in around three seconds. And those blue Tri-Co vans? They do it in a blisteringly fast 11.6 seconds. Clearly, the FF91 is a fast car. More importantly, it is faster than anything Tesla has to offer, at least for now (Tesla is developing a car that they claim will be able to do 0-60 in 2.39 seconds). Perhaps more practically important, however, is that the FF91 far surpasses the range of any Tesla model. Faraday Future claims that the FF91 has a total range of 378 miles, as compared to the Tesla Model S P100D, which has a range of 315 miles.
The FF91 also comes with a host of technologies aimed at completely digitizing the driving experience. The car does not come with a key, and instead, can be unlocked through a smartphone app or facial recognition of one of the car’s many cameras. Once inside the car, the driver is greeted by a large, central touchscreen that is used to control many of the car’s functions, similar to that found in Tesla models. Rear seat passengers need not miss out on screens either — a large screen folds down from the roof for rear-seat entertainment. Perhaps most strikingly, cameras inside the car can detect the driver’s facial expressions and tailor the music, climate controls, seat massager, and aromatherapy settings to the driver’s mood. Following Tesla’s footsteps, the FF91 utilizes a number of sensors and cameras that enable the vehicle to drive autonomously. It can also autonomously find parking spots and self-park itself.
Put bluntly, the FF91 is an absolutely absurd car. Its performance, appearance, and technology make it seem like it’s a car that has time traveled here from the year 2035. The crazy part is, Faraday Future, as well as other automakers, are just getting started. The FF91 is a clear sign of where the automobile is headed: electricity, autonomy, technology, and digitization of everything. Faraday Future is currently taking reservations for the FF91 for $5000 (the actual price of the vehicle will probably be well above $200,000), with production beginning in 2018.