On Monday, the future came early for electric-car startup Faraday Future.

Details and images of the secretive company's concept car were leaked on Twitter less than a day before an official unveiling at annual Las Vegas tech trade show CES, one of the most highly anticipated events of the weeklong expo. The leak came after the company's iOS app made a brief, premature appearance on the App Store.

The all-electric car will have a top speed of 200 miles per hour, compared with 155 miles per hour for Tesla's Model S, and will offer an autonomous driving mode. The futuristic design is already drawing comparisons to the Batmobile, thanks to its covered glass cabin and aerodynamic tailfin. Faraday is also working on a unique type of modular battery technology that will give its larger vehicles more batteries built into the frame. After unveiling the nonproduction concept car at CES, the company is expected to release a production version as early as 2017.

So what is Faraday Future? Founded in May 2014 by a group of ex-Tesla employees, including Nick Sampson, Tesla's former director of vehicle and chassis engineering, Faraday has kept a tight lid on many of the basic details of its company. For example, it has an investor in Chinese internet billionaire Jia Yueting, but describes its funding only as "ample."

The scope of its potential product line is also somewhat mysterious, as the company has indicated it plans to explore other areas of the tech and automotive sectors, such as "unique ownership models" like a subscription system and "in-vehicle content" like apps. Faraday also said it plans to roll out everything from sedans and SUVs to crossovers and pickup trucks. No prices were mentioned during Monday's unveiling. In roughly a year, the startup has grown to more than 750 employees.

In a surprising twist, however, one of its key members left the company as recently as yesterday. Faraday's chief battery designer, Porter Harris, has changed his employer to Lotus Research and Development on his LinkedIn page, Bloomberg reported.

Headquartered outside of Los Angeles in Gardena, California, the company last month announced it would build an automotive production plant in North Las Vegas, the first phase of which will require an investment of $1 billion. The three-million-square-foot facility built on 900 acres of land will create 4,500 new jobs, according to the company, and at least 50 percent of the employees will be recruited from the local Nevada work force. 

The core members of Faraday's team include chief designer Sue Neuhauser, the former senior automative designer of color and trim at Tesla; head of exterior design Page Beermann, previously a senior designer at BMW; and head of interior design Pontus Fontaeus, who has designed interiors for Ferrari, Land Rover, and Volvo, but also worked on redesigning the business-class interior of an airline.

Published on: Jan 4, 2016