I don’t think anyone would argue that Faraday Future’s all-electric car, the FF91, doesn’t look fast. They might argue over the strange, “bulky crossover” design. They might argue that the videos Faraday has published about the car, both before and after it was announced, were heavily edited, which made it hard to make a real judgement about whether the car was as fast as the company said it is. But judging from the rides Faraday gave people in the car when it was announced at CES — including our own — the thing seemed fast.
This past weekend, we finally got a sense of just how fast. And, more importantly, it was in an environment that Faraday Future wasn’t in control of. That’s because Faraday sent the car up the 156-turn, 12.42-mile course that makes up the 101-year-old Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.
The FF91 was entered into the Hill Climb competition as part of the “exhibition class,” which Pikes Peak includes every year to “demonstrate advancements in the practical application of motor sports technology.” All that considered, the FF91 — driven by British GT Championship driver Robin Shute — did pretty well.
Shute clocked a time of 11 minutes and 25.082 seconds, which isn’t blistering fast compared to the rest of the field. But he set one of the faster times in the first section of the hill, in part thanks to the FF91’s crazy speed off the line (something Faraday has boasted about since before officially unveiling the car). Considering how demanding the hill climb is on both the cars and the drivers, it’s an accomplishment just to make it across the finish line.
Drivers have been tackling Pikes Peak with electric cars for a few years now, so Faraday’s not breaking any ground in that respect. In fact, an electric car won the competition for the first time ever in 2015. But the official electric classes are heavily modified, race-ready cars with giant aerodynamic rear wings.
Faraday Future has a rocky history for such a young company. In the last year alone, it’s lost executives, been accused of unpaid bills, and experienced problems with its factory — and that was all before the shaky unveiling of the FF91 at CES. Most recently, Faraday’s main investor — Chinese conglomerate LeEco — laid off most of its US workforce, forcing the company to search for new funding.
I think the company can consider Pikes Peak a win. It’s still not going to help them build the thing, though.