Faraday Future made a splash earlier this year with its FFZERO1 concept, but the shadowy, China-backed American automaker has lately been seen testing a camouflaged minivan-like vehicle that looks awfully similar to the Tesla Model X.
A recent patent publication reveals that the similarities don’t stop there, as Faraday Future is considering replicating many of the features found on the Model X. However, one detail could explain the mystery at the core of a teaser video Faraday Future released yesterday.
The latest patent is a continuation of the inverter patent published earlier this year.
The patent, titled “System and Method for Improving Acceleration Performance of an Electric Vehicle,” describes a system for improving the acceleration of a vehicle that uses an electric motor for propulsion. It states that it includes an inverter, as described in the previous patent, along with the possibility of using a torque capability controller.
In the patent, the first figure shows a vehicle with one or more electric motors and offers a few options for the transfer of power, including a single electric motor connected by a shaft to the wheels along with individual motors connected to each wheel. The last option is one that may be tied to the teaser video, which shows the vehicle’s camouflaged wheels. The patent states that the “motor may be built into a wheel such that the wheel may rotate co-axially with a rotor of the motor.”
The idea of mounting a motor inside the wheel may sound far-fetched, but concepts such as the Michelin Active Wheel have been displayed as early as 2008. The in-wheel motors haven’t seen market adoption, but companies such as Protean Electric have built demonstration vehicles with similar motors ranging from the VW Golf to an E-Class-based performance EV for Brabus, so the technology may have some legs.
The rest of the patent reveals that Faraday Future has some focus on performance — it’s considering drive modes that sound very similar to what Tesla has built. It states that the “model selector may be configured to provide different driving modes, including at least a normal or base mode and an enhanced mode.”
The description starts to sound a lot like Tesla’s “Ludicrous Mode” as they go on describe possible names for the enhanced modes — among them, a “sports mode, a turbo mode, an exhilarating mode, a thrilling mode, etc.” The patent also states that some versions may include two or more of these enhanced modes set at different levels of performance.
Names aren’t the only similarities, as the patent also describes the implementation of these modes and states that the mode selector may be provided as an add-on or upgradeable component much like “Ludicrous Mode” was and describes an upgrade process which can be completed Over-The-Air or at a designated service facility.
The patent does offer a few unique perspectives, including the possibility of implementing an accelerator pedal that can be changed to offer a softer or stiffer feeling depending on the drive mode, along with the idea that the mode upgrade could be implemented using a user-purchasable hardware kit.
All of these ideas may be for naught as Faraday Future has recently found itself short on cash. Hopefully, we’ll see some of these in the flesh at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.
[Photo Credit: Protean Electric]
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