Nick Sampson, head of the startup electric vehicle company Faraday Future, spent a busy day as the title sponsor of the Faraday Future Long Beach ePrix April 2. I interviewed him standing up in the shade of a tree on a warm California afternoon before we both had to hurry off to the track where the cars would be lined up on the grid for the standing start of the Formula E race.
While he quickly ate a small plate of sausage and potato salad, Sampson fielded a few questions about the Tesla Model 3. “It’s not our competition,” he said. “It’s fantastic news.”
Sampson saw Tesla rack up the preorders for the Model 3 and concluded that those numbers validate the pent-up demand for electric vehicles. As of Friday, Tesla had more than 180,000 preorders for its latest, most affordable model, though analysts wonder if the company can fill all these orders. If they can’t, Faraday Future is hoping to swoop in and gather up those potential customers—if, that is, their own first and as-yet-unseen vehicle is ready in time.
The interest in Tesla vehicles has done the electric car market a lot of good, according to Sampson. “It opens people’s minds to the possibilities.”
It’s the same reason, he said, that Faraday Future jumped on board as a title sponsor for the Formula E race at the last minute. “Formula E is what we’re about,” Sampson said, though the company does not have a team racing in the series. “We’re trying to show that electric cars aren’t dull and boring. We’re both pushing in that same direction.”
Faraday Future did bring its FFZero “car of concept,” a technological showcase wrapped in a cool race car shell. It’s built on a performance variant of the company’s core platform, Sampson said. “It’s the same technology—batteries and motors—that will be used for the production cars.”
The FFZero didn’t take even a parade lap, but just as at CES where the concept debuted, the booth in the eVillage activity area was filled with fans taking pictures. Sampson saw the value of sponsorship in getting the company’s name out, and for race fans, the FFZero was a fine ambassador, even if it didn’t see any track time.