Faraday Future: the leader in luxury electric vehicles
Prashant Gulati is the esteemed Vice President of Strategy at Faraday Future. Now in his seventh year with the company, he handles the entirety of its strategic roadmap, which includes overseeing the business plan, mobility initiatives, manufacturing strategy, and directing fundraising efforts.
Fundraising is a key part of Gulati’s role: “My proudest professional achievement has been co-leading the IPO process which helped the company raise more than one billion dollars through a listing on NASDAQ,” he says.
With over 20 years of success in the technology and automotive industries, Gulati is an accomplished executive with a track record of scaling businesses. He has successfully led a public offering and held leadership roles to drive growth and expansion at several companies globally. In recognition of his industry contributions, Gulati was selected for the coveted Business Insider list of EV Industry Power Players.
Gulati holds a bachelor's degree in computer science and an MBA from the Indian School of Business.
Having grown up in India, Gulati has always had a deep affinity for the environment. This draw of environmental stewardship was heightened when Gulati and his wife were expecting their first child. “I had a sense of urgency to contribute to technology that could help slow climate change and create a better world for our children to grow up in,” he explained.
“I explored numerous fields, including renewable energy, smart grids and energy storage, before focusing on EVs and finding Faraday Future. I immediately clicked with the company as it had such a bold vision and fit the environmentally-focused technological approach I was seeking. My journey into the auto industry has been quite unusual – almost accidental.”
Faraday Future: driving the EV industry
“Climate change is the defining challenge of our time, and transportation is one of the largest contributors to it,” says Gulati. “At the same time, the world cannot slow down. We need more growth, more productivity, more time to commit to our passions. So, at Faraday Future, we've been working on the intersection of these problems - of clean mobility and climate change on one hand, and helping people lead productive, connected lives on the other.”
Faraday Future has taken the first step towards achieving that mission by building the FF 91, which Gulati believes is the most connected, comfortable, and technologically advanced electric car in the world. The company achieved start of production of the FF 91 in California and plans to sell it through a direct sales model in its dual home bases of the US and China.
“The vision of the company is much more than building and selling electric cars, though,” Gulati tells us. “We want to engage our users, build a community, and offer internet and AI services throughout the vehicle lifecycle”.
Throwing out the rule book in electric vehicle development
Faraday Future started from scratch, taking a “clean sheet approach” to building electric cars. Faraday Future’s technology innovations include its proprietary Variable Platform Architecture (VPA), propulsion system, and Internet, Autonomous Driving, and Intelligence (I.A.I.) systems. The company has approximately 660 patents across these areas.
“So far, the company has invested billions of dollars in creating industry-leading product and technology,” recounts Gulati. “Building cars is a capital-intensive business, and we've had our ups and downs.
“The way I would describe the ethos of the company is one of perseverance and tenacity; one of never, ever giving up in the service of our mission.”
FF 91: A new species reformatting the future of mobility
The FF 91 has been designed as an all-ability car, possessing the handling of a sedan, the space, reliability, and comfort of an SUV, and the top-level performance and driving dynamics of a sports car.
“A lot of people liken it to a Rolls-Royce, with increased comfort, connectivity, and performance ” Gulati tells us – and the statistics certainly speak for themselves.
“There's a lot that has gone into developing and thinking about the design, driving experience, and the overall user experience” says Gulati who is incredibly passionate about the vehicle.
“There is no electric car in our segment right now – competing with Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Maybach – so we're quite excited about being the first EV of our kind, and we think it's going to redefine industry standards. The first ultra-tech luxury electric vehicle.”
The technology under the bonnet
Faraday Future describes the technology behind the FF 91 within three pillars:
- Variable Platform Architecture
“Think of it like a Lego,” Gulati explains: “You can change the size of the platform and build different vehicles of different sizes for different purposes. You can put different motor and powertrain configurations. This skateboard-like platform approach enables us to build multiple vehicles on the same platform, reduce time to cost, time to market, and more.”
- In-house Propulsion Technology
Faraday Future has developed a proprietary inverter design and propulsion system. The drive units are fully integrated with the inverter, and transmission and control unit to enable leading horsepower, efficiency, and acceleration.
- Internet, Autonomous Driving, and Intelligence (I.A.I.)
“Our software, internet, and AI development is the most important of these pillars,” says Gulati. “That's where the company shines compared to all of our competition.” Faraday Future’s commitment to these technologies supports the user experience in the car, both practically and luxuriously, ensuring seamless user experience through different elements, one of which is advanced voice control to manage complex queries without driver or passenger distraction.
Supply chain management
Faraday Future invested a lot in creating its own technology. “Some companies basically source parts and build a car, essentially becoming assemblers,” explains Gulati. “At Faraday Future, we've invested a lot of time and capital on creating our own technology.”
Faraday Future has strong partnerships with, and relies on, key suppliers to ensure the FF 91 is completed in a timely manner and with the high quality its users will demand. The company was affected to a lesser degree by supply chain issues during the pandemic because of planned low volumes at launch, and because many of the parts are created by suppliers uniquely for the FF 91, and so we don't compete with others for those. Notwithstanding, the company has taken lessons from that period and gotten even more diligent about planning and ordering across the supply chain.
In terms of scale, Faraday Future employs 590 people across the US and China, and with its production plant in California the company will ultimately be capable of producing approximately 10,000 vehicles per year. The current manufacturing setup is asset light, and the supply chain is built with expansion in mind: if needed, the company has a contract manufacturing partner for this anticipated expansion, allowing early-stage flexibility.
What does the future hold for Faraday Future?
“The company's DNA is completely global,” Gulati says: “We've designed and defined the product with an abundance of cutting-edge technology to cater to a global audience.”
The company is headquartered in Los Angeles, where much of the engineering and manufacturing takes place, but it also has roots in China – home to a Faraday Future engineering centre. The FF 91 will be initially launched in the US, followed by China, before being launched globally.
Distribution and beyond
“Looking to the next 18 months, we are very focused on the FF 91 production, sales, and deliveries,” Gulati explains. “We're going to be scaling our operation, ramping up supply chain – that's the key focus area making the FF 91 successful.
Gulati believes that the value chain disruption we’re seeing now is going to continue, not only accelerating on the product and technology front, but on the sales’ side, too, as industry sales volumes increase.
“In the distribution model, quite a few OEMs have expressed a desire to sell directly to customers” Gulati explains.
“For the industry, this transition away from ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) vehicles is going to impact sales economics. Today, auto dealers mostly earn margins from selling auto parts and services, and financial services, and that's going to change. Maintenance and parts and services replacement in EVs is far less than ICE vehicles. So, we expect to see changes on the business side as well as on the product and technology side.”
Despite this value chain disruption and anticipated global economic slowdown, Gulati himself doesn’t forecast a slowdown for Faraday Future, citing research from McKinsey that shows the luxury vehicle market (vehicles $150,000 and above) is projected to grow significantly over the next 10 years.
FF 91: The mould for the future
Looking to the longer-term future, Faraday Future has ensured built-in capability to add further models to its Variable Platform Architecture.
“We have plans for our next model – we call it the FF 81 – which will share 60% commonality of parts with the FF 91,” Gulati says. “Although, of course, such future developments are dependent on a number of things, including fundraising.”
What is the future for the electric vehicle industry?
To promote long-term growth and success within the electric vehicle industry, Gulati says the focus is – and should remain – on batteries, reducing cost of materials, recycling, and developing new chemistries.
“Since 2010, the price of batteries has dropped significantly – until about 2019,” Gulati recounts. “In the last few years, battery and raw material prices have risen again because of supply chain disruptions, due to the pandemic.”
The second focus that Gulati expects of the industry is in EV infrastructure.
“We are seeing significant regulatory support to promote the transition to electric vehicles,” he says. “Governments are allocating a lot of capital and policy support towards education, charging infrastructure, and local sourcing of electric cars, so we anticipate that will continue.”
The future is on its way – and it looks electric.