Faraday Future Design VP Richard Kim reveals FFZero1 at CES, January 2016

Faraday Future Design VP Richard Kim Resigns

We had high hopes for Faraday Future, a company that seemed poised to take on Tesla in the growing electric car sector. Now it seems the final nail has been hammered into the coffin, as Faraday Future (FF) VP of Design, Richard Kim, has tendered in his resignation. Word in the car design community is that he left that same day he handed in his notice.

According to sources, Kim wasn’t the only member of the FF design team to throw in the towel – 30 designers also followed his lead. Though it’s unclear as to the exact number of designers on the FF team, we’re willing to wager that there’s nobody left in the studio. This is a sad fate for the company. The FF design team was a once-strong outfit with a number of highly capable employees.

BMW i8 Spyder concept sketch by Richard Kim

BMW i8 Spyder concept sketch by Richard Kim (2012)

Kim, an Art Center College of Design graduate, rose to prominence following the announcement that he had joined FF as head of design in 2015. He’d already had a strong track record as a designer at BMW Group Designworks, where he was the principal exterior designer on the BMW i3 production car as well as the BMW i8 Spyder, Coupe and i3 concept cars. He’d also worked at Nissan’s European design studio in London, UK, and Audi’s facility in Santa Monica, California.

Under Kim’s direction, the FF design team went to work on three products: the FFZero1, the FF91 and the as yet unseen FF01 model. The design team was also responsible for the creation of the LeEco LeSEE concept, another electric car start-up backed by Leshi Internet Information and Technology Corp. and founder Jia Yueting (he also has a stake in Lucid Motors).

Faraday Future Design VP Richard Kim reveals FFZero1 at CES, January 2016

Faraday Future Design VP Richard Kim reveals FFZero1 at CES, January 2016

When FF made its debut at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas the company’s disruptive vision was largely misunderstood. The FFZero1 concept car was a preview of the breadth of design possibilities that its all-electric platform enabled, and it had a brilliant interior created under the direction of then head of design Pontus Fontaeus. Most media outlets didn’t see it this way.

By the time the FF91 prototype took the stage at CES 2017, the company’s financial uncertainty was already well publicized, and the multitude of mishaps during the reveal did little to show the company had fine-tuned its potentially groundbreaking technology.

Faraday Future FF91

Faraday Future FF91 reveal at CES in January 2017 didn’t go smoothly

Further questions about the company’s ability to fund the $1bn factory it intended to build in order to bring the vehicle to market by its proposed 2018 launch date also emerged. With mounting debt and the stubborn mindset and questionable management of major shareholder Yueting, the company was eventually forced to cease building the Nevada factory this past summer.

In light of all of the issues faced by the company and its founder, it seemed only a matter of time before FF would be forced to close up shop. While there had been some rumors of Indian automotive giant Mahindra & Mahindra (Pininfarina’s new owners) expressing interest in purchasing the company’s assets, there has been no such confirmation. Seeing that LeEco owns all of the technology patents it seems a tough sell.

Now, questions surrounding Richard Kim’s next career move remain unclear. There aren’t that many VP of Design offers on the table in Europe or the US currently, but there might be a place for him in China. Form Trends’ requests to Kim for comment weren’t immediately returned. We’ll be sure to let you know if he responds.


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