In the beginning, there was Tesla, although it wasn’t started by current CEO Elon Musk.
While Musk has now become synonymous with the electric-car brand, Tesla was actually founded by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, who had previously founded and sold a eBook reader company.
While both left the company in 2008, they have kept their hands in electric vehicles, and now Eberhard has teamed up with Chinese car developer Chongqing Sokon in a venture called SF Motors.
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Chongqing bought Eberhard’s battery development company InEVit, which was working on improving energy density in electric-car packs. It also bought an old Hummer factory in South Bend, Indiana.
In late March, Chongqing introduced its first two electric vehicles at its headquarters in Silicon Valley on Monday, in an event covered by industry trade journal Automotive News.
Both are based on variants of the same skateboard chassis, with a flat battery pack mounted low to the floor and individual motors on each axle to power the wheels.
Chinese electric-car startup SF Motors headquarters
The SF5 And SF7—which we can only speculate may denote seating capacity—will use versions of the powertrain developed by InEVit.
SF Motors says the four-motor version will produce 1,000 horsepower and sprint from 0 to 60 mph in less than 3 seconds. The cars are expected to deliver 300 miles of range.
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The company is also reportedly working with the University of Michigan to develop autonomous driving capability for the SF5 and SF7.
Because it has a pair of factories in place already—not only the South Bend site, but also its own plant in Chongqing, China—SF Motors says it will have a jump on other new luxury electric-car competitors.
Those might include Byton, Faraday Future, Lucid, and the Polestar arm of Volvo, all of them at various stages of development and backed by Chinese funds.
The company claims it will begin pre-production this fall, with a goal of putting its first cars on sale in the spring of 2019.
Eventually, it says it plans to build 200,000 cars per year: 50,000 for the U.S., and 150,000 more for China.