Trials & Calculations: Mule Testing Our Powertrain & Chassis

Posted by FF Team

Engineering a new car requires more than simply combining the best available parts and housing them in an attractive shell. It requires meticulous testing, deep data analysis, and a conductor’s touch to orchestrate the individual interaction of each element, culminating in the product’s overall performance.

Though the end result will make for stunning, viscerally engaging vehicles, the versions we test are a bit more pragmatic in nature.

 “Some people call a mule [engineering test vehicle] a ‘hacked up car,’” explains Matt Lubbers, FF’s Brakes and Chassis Control Engineer. “They’re built to test our mechanical and technical systems… they may not look like a production vehicle, but they certainly run like one.” 

We have been holding engineering test vehicle trials for almost a year now. During that time, FF test vehicles have faced the world’s most extreme environments – from the sweltering heat of desert asphalt to ice- and snow-covered roads in sub-zero driving conditions.

Throughout the world, they’ve performed valiantly.

“Traditionally, manufacturers’ early engineering test vehicles are merely existing cars, modified to test maybe one or two newer elements: just the chassis or just the powertrain, for example,” Matt elaborates. “At FF, on the other hand… every key element was engineered and integrated from the ground up. After running pre-vehicle simulation and sub-system validation, we’re able to explore and optimize all sides of engineering in a vehicle from its very first test drive.”

“The powertrain, the suspension, the electrical architecture, the battery, the control system – they’re all here… Aside from its exterior shell, beyond just looks,” Matt smiles, “this car is FF to its core.”

He contributes the remarkable speed at which our test vehicle program has progressed to our company’s “lack of red tape” and “effortless communication and workflow.”

“All of the innovative technologies at our disposal certainly help,” Matt muses. Our test vehicles feature 3G/WiFi data loggers, for instance, which let us send testing results back to our labs from remote testing locations in real-time, allowing for carefully calculated solutions to spontaneous problems as they arise.

While our prototypes are being refined, our body structures and design teams have been engineering our vehicles’ look and feel in parallel, collaboratively adapting to new developments in our powertrain, battery, and chassis systems.

“In my mind, I have a dream job,” he confides. “It’s truly a dream opportunity for the right people – with the right experience and the right attitude.”

Despite how swiftly our vehicle testing has evolved, we’re still seeking more talented engineers to help support this process. Matt encourages anyone seeking to “engage and innovate in the industry” to seek out and apply for one of our available chassis and powertrain engineering positions.