Is Faraday Future Really a Competitive Threat to Tesla?

There’s a great deal of hype surrounding Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) no matter how you’re involved in the company. If you’re driving one of their cars, you get to experience just how cool their technology is every day. If you invested in their stock 10 years ago, you’re sitting pretty with an investment that’s appreciated over +1,000%. If you’re a cult follower of their CEO Elon Musk, you know just what a visionary he truly is with his startup SpaceX which aims to send humans to other planets. But what’s stopping anyone else from building something as cool as or cooler than Tesla’s electric vehicles and squashing all that hype? Nothing really, and that’s what a company called Faraday Future just might be getting ready to do.

“Employees are our greatest asset”. “Nothing is more important than winning the war for talent”. These are just some of the cliche slogans you hear spouted off by HR executives when in fact, the status quo seems to be that most HR executives are not effective in providing a competitive advantage to most organizations, an opinion shared by Steve Jobs who once said:

I’ve never met one of you who didn’t suck. I’ve never known an HR person who had anything but a mediocre mentality.

Ahem. Now that’s all fine and dandy but the truth is, these HR executives are absolutely spot on. Employees are your greatest asset. For companies that can walk the walk, retaining your key talent is a key competitive advantage which prevents your employees from taking their talents to your competitors. So what happens when some of your key executives go off to do their own thing? You ought to be at the least bit, quite concerned.

Click for company websiteOne such company is Faraday Future, a startup operating in stealth mode since April of 2014 which is building electric vehicles that will “connect the automotive experience to the rest of your life” and “offer smart and seamless connectivity to the outside world”. Here are a few of their sketches:

Faraday_Sketch

Other mysterious attributes claimed include “unique ownership models, in-vehicle content and autonomous driving”. Now Faraday is not the only company that’s trying to challenge Tesla, but what they do have are some key ex-employees from Tesla that could make all the difference. Some of these key leadership appointments include

  • Nick Sampson, Senior Vice President of R&D and Engineering – Former Director of Vehicle & Chassis Engineering, Tesla Motors
  • Dag Reckhorn, Vice President of Global Manufacturing – Former Director of Manufacturing, Tesla Model S
  • Alan Cherry, Vice President of Human Resources – Former Senior Director, Human Resources, Tesla Motors
  • Tom Wessner, Vice President of Supply ChainFormer Director of Purchasing, Tesla Motors
  • Richard Kim, Head of Design – Founding member of BMW i Design and Lead Designer, i3 and i8 concepts.

At least 4 senior executives from Tesla are filling key roles in Faraday. Think that Senior HR Director from Tesla doesn’t have a Rolodex filled with contact info for every employee at Tesla? If he doesn’t, we’d bet he knows a lot of them by name if he did his job right. Take a look at Faraday Future’s careers page. It will take you at least a few minutes to scroll through all the open roles they have. While Faraday has 400 employees at the moment, they’re targeting 500 by year-end and expect to double that number in a year’s time. How many of those roles are going to be poached from Tesla Motors?

So what else do we know about Faraday Future? We know they are using 3D printing for prototyping, and are looking to pour over $1 billion into building their first manufacturing plant in the U.S. with production starting in late 2017. They are aiming for the highest energy density vehicle on the market with a 15% higher specific energy than a Tesla Model S. They may also be exploring a non-traditional sales model where owners would temporarily “subscribe” to different vehicles depending on their needs. Speculation abounds that they are backed by the Chinese or actually a front for Apple’s entry into the electric vehicle space. What we can be sure of though is that Faraday is on the verge of exiting stealth mode. On January 4th, 2016, they will “unveil a concept inspired by our design and engineering vision” at CES 2016. Mark your calendar.

While Tesla has stolen the show in the electric vehicle market presently, there is an opportunity for a competitor to come along and increase the Tesla cool factor exponentially with a much higher price tag. That may be just what Faraday Future is looking to do. While they may not be much of a threat to Tesla’s sales numbers, they may just steal Tesla’s limelight.

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