Silicon Valley and skeptics in the auto industry waited with bated breath for the mysterious Chinese-backed auto startup Faraday Future to show its autonomous, electric FF 91 production car. But what about normal people, the people who might actually buy the thing? Not so much as Business Insider reports only 60 people actually put money down for a reservation. Faraday Future, vaguely, denies this claim.
Faraday Future, of course, said that it secured 64,000 reservations for the FF 91. The company also advertised these reservations as costing $5,000, a huge step up from the $1,000 that Tesla famously asked to reserve its moderately-priced Model 3. It quickly became apparent that Faraday Future’s reservations could easily be made for free, and that each person making a free reservation could get as many as he or she pleased.
I myself put in free requests for two of the self-driving cars, which should retail in the low six figures, assuming they ever go into production.
I asked Faraday Future how many of its reservations were of the $5,000 variety, and the company’s somewhat less than illuminative PR branch said it was “unable to provide specific details with regards to reservation type.”
Business Insider got a different figure, which it published in a report two days ago:
The company announced that it received more than 64,000 reservations for the car shortly after CES, but people were allowed to put their names down with or without a $5,000 deposit. Sources close to the company told Business Insider 60 people actually submitted a paid reservation.
This figure echoes what Jalopnik has heard from a number of sources also close to the company.
Today Faraday Future issued a public denial, but not one that offered any evidence to counter BI’s claim:
Faraday Future’s not-CEO Nick Sampson tweeted that the company not only exceeded BI’s number, but it did it in two hours.
This is not a particularly good look for Faraday Future, which had hoped to cement an image of a legitimate, force-to-be-reckoned-with car company through its CES showing. Instead the FF 91 prototype failed to park itself onstage in front of a global audience. And its highly-touted 0-60 time was beaten before the month was out by some kid in his dad’s Tesla.
Worse still, Faraday Future has given no official pricing for its FF 91 in America, so the media ran wild with company backer Jia Yueting’s estimate of $290,000 for the Chinese market. Several American news sites have already misinterpreted that figure to mean the FF 91 will be that expensive here in the States.
If you have any evidence to support Faraday Future or Business Insider’s figures, please feel free to email me at raphael at jalopnik dot com.