Electric Race Car Concept

The mystery is no more. Tonight in Las Vegas, right on the strip and just before the beginning of the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show, Faraday Future—that secretive autonomous electric-vehicle company backed by a rich Chinese investor, loaded with top talent from across the automotive industry, and claiming to revolutionize the car business—has unveiled a new modular platform, more details on its relationship with Chinese technology company Letv, and its first ever concept car. It’s a fanciful sci-fi race car. It’s also the exact car that was leaked, twice, earlier today, but now we have a whole bunch more details on the car and the company’s plans.

First off, the platform. Because, well, that’s the only thing about the FFZero1 concept that’s real at this moment. Faraday has developed its own variable electric-vehicle architecture, a modular platform that it will use for a variety of cars. Faraday says the platform will be outfitted with all the hardware it needs for full Internet connectivity and autonomous driving.

Similar to a Tesla, the batteries will be positioned across the floor of the platform, creating a low center of gravity and increasing stability. However, Faraday says it’s developed a new battery structure that uses units the company calls strings—rectangles of connected battery cells that run the width of the vehicle’s floor. The platform can accept multiple battery configurations, adding or subtracting strings to fit various vehicle types and wheelbases. As Senior Vice President of R&D Nick Sampson explains it, the battery strings operate like Christmas lights—”if one battery goes out, the rest continue to function.”

Except for adjustments to the crumple zones, the front and rear suspension and related architecture will stay the same across all platform configurations. Think of it as an autonomous-ready, all-electric take on Volkswagen’s modular MQB platform, one parent architecture to spawn multiple vehicle types.

“There are a lot of companies who claim modular vehicle design,” Sampson said at tonight’s unveiling. “We’ve optimized it.”