Twitter/Faraday FutureThe secretive electric car startup Faraday Future has big plans to reinvent the car industry, and a big part of its strategy hinges on moving away from selling cars at all.
“Initially, more vehicles will be sold, that is the current practice at the moment. More cars are sold than are going into these other forms of use,” Nick Sampson, Faraday’s head of research and development and a former Tesla exec, told Tech Insider.
“But over time, we believe the industry will change and people's’ demands are going to change. And as more offering is put into the public domain and these other options are available, they will become more popular.”
The California-based startup is essentially betting that the automotive industry will eventually go the way of the music industry and adopt more of a subscription-based model where people can use different cars based on their needs.
Instead of owning a car, Sampson envisions a world where you will be able to request cars as you need them and they will come to you to suit your needs.
Screenshot via Faraday Future
“If some people don’t want to own a car anymore, they’ll perhaps have a mobility subscription. That may mean to get home from work I just call up a small simple one man, low speed commuting vehicle that will get me home in the evening,” Sampson said.
“But if stop on the way and realize that I have to pick something up from Home Depot, I may need something a bit bigger. I may go home in a truck. So for the second part of my journey I call up a second vehicle,” he said.
While this model will most likely become dominant when cars become fully autonomous, you don’t have to wait until driverless cars to see that this is where things are headed.
Between 2001 and 2009, the average number of miles driven by 16 to 34 year-olds dropped by 23% and millennials made 15% fewer trips by cars over the same period, according to a study by the US Public Interest Research Group.
In fact, vehicle ownership could decline from 2.1 per household to 1.2, or 43% in the US alone once autonomous cars are adopted, according to a study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.
This is why Faraday Future, which plans to have its cars on the road by 2020, doesn’t plan on waiting for self-driving cars to become legal before it rolls out some sort of fleet service.
Faraday FutureSampson said while it plans to sell cars initially, it may also experiment with models similar to Zipcar or Uber.
“We will start off with a far closer traditional model. The balance between fleet type vehicles for use by subscription services will be lower and individual ownership cars will be higher, but as time moves on and over the next few year that ratio will change,” he said.
Faraday Future's fleet model, for example, might enable a person to have a commuting car during the work week, but on the weekend a user could trade it in for a high-performance sports car, Sampson said.
Faraday plans to reveal its first concept car next week at CES, an annual tech conference in Las Vegas. While the car will likely not be a production model, we can expect to get a better idea of how its cars will be different and hopefully a clearer picture of what kind of mobility services the company will roll out first.
“We are very much planning our future and believe the future needs of people are going to be very, very different,” Sampson said.
“There will be different ownership models, different usage models. Sure, there will be a lot of people who just want to own a car as they do now in the future. But there will be a lot of people that want something different. They will want mobility in a different way.”