Faraday Future or a Faraway Bubble?
Close to a year ago we published an opinion piece about Faraday’s appearance at CES. There was a massive amount of PR for a car that was about as practical for everyday use as a can opener would be for house painting.
As the year progressed more PR was issued from the company about the massive manufacturing plant being built and yada, yada, yada. Then the unwanted news started floating out. Unpaid bills, lawsuits and executive firings. Now the company is touting an interior featuring seats from a company that had to sue Faraday to get paid. One can assume they will show up at CES and actually present a car.
Will they ever be able to sell and deliver products? The jury is out, but if we were betting it would be against that ever happening.
It is interesting to note that since Tesla came out with their high-end, very expensive roadster as a first offering and then went slightly downscale to the Model S and X before announcing a “mass” market car with the Model 3, that other companies appear to be trying to emulate this pattern.
Sure, in the short history of EVs, that worked for Elon. But is this really the right way to launch a car brand?
If we look back at the earlier days of automotive history and at what are some of the biggest brands of today, we don’t see this pattern. Not even close.
Toyota started out selling cheap little cars in the US. They got some sales and a customer base and then started introducing bigger and better vehicles and then rolled out a “luxury” brand in Lexus. Honda, Nissan and to a degree Hyundai followed the same pattern.
There’s nothing more tiring than to see endless articles about the next “Tesla killer” or how such and such company is now going to “challenge” Telsa. Meaningless clickbait drivel. Compare this to all the “iPod killers” that came out challenging Apple’s product. Does anyone recall a number above zero of how many met with success?
Branding vs. Bubble
Brands can’t be built from marketing and PR releases. This is a lesson a lot of people did not learn from the DotCom boom. You can’t just come up with a product you assume people will want, do some PR releases about how cool it is and then wait for the “brand” to sink in somehow.
Brands are built on one thing: successful commerce. Yes, you actually have to sell and deliver, over and over and over. Tesla—despite critics opinions to the contrary—is actually selling and delivering. Apple is still selling a TON of iPods. Amazon’s brand is built on making massive quantities of products available and delivering them. These are enduring brands.
When you see PR statements from companies that are starting up about how they’re shaking up the market but don’t yet have a product out, realize that all the shaking is actually happening in their boots. That is a bubble, not a brand. Remember what bubbles are full of and evaluate them accordingly.
What’s Actually Here is What Is Important
The only players to pay attention to in the EV world in our opinions are those that have some cars to sell. But with the low end being the most important for wider market penetration, that leaves just one for the moment: Chevrolet with their Bolt. We’ll see how they do, but the idea of a 200-mile plus range on an electric car in the $30,000 range is compelling. And it is here now.
Tesla’s Model 3 only exists in prototypes right now. It will be a year at least until we can get them in our hands. But Tesla gets a pass on this because it is ramping up sales and delivery of its other models and has validated the market with massive pre-orders—which actually did Chevrolet a solid.
So feel free to save your time by ignoring clickbait about non-existent companies and keep your eyes on what is real. Brands have substance. Bubbles pop.