Silicon Valley's SF Motors introduces electric SUVs, on sale in 2019

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While much attention has been turned toward the East Coast during the New York Auto Show, a new EV company has been busy on the other side of the country, in California. SF Motors, a Silicon Valley startup with financial backing from China, introduced its first two electric vehicles, the SF5 and SF7, at an event (which you can watch above). Both are SUVs built on the same platform, using batteries and electric motors developed in-house.

SF Motors says the mid-sized SF5 will be available for preorder later this year, with deliveries beginning in 2019. The full-sized SF7 will follow. SF’s EVs can be configured with anywhere from one to four electric motors, the latter format providing a total of over 1,000 horsepower. This will translate to a claimed 0-to-60 time of less than three seconds. Electric range from the liquid-cooled battery pack will be more than 300 miles, SF Motors says, and will be supplemented by an onboard range-extending generator.

In addition to a potent powertrain, SF Motors says its cars will offer a thrilling ride thanks to big wheels, multilink suspension, air springs with continuous damping control, rear steering and all-wheel-drive torque vectoring.

The cars will be equipped with technology SF Motors calls “protective autonomy.” This system assists the driver with the help of lidar, computer vision, and vehicle and driver monitoring. The vehicles will be updated with new software via over-the-air updates.

SF Motors says it has a plan for batteries once they’ve reached the end of their automotive life. Its recycling program plans to use the batteries for energy storage products for homes and businesses. The company is also working to develop solid state cells for next-generation batteries.

With manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and China, SF Motors plans to sell in both markets. It has R&D centers in the U.S., China, Japan and Germany, and partnerships with Bosch, Siemens and the University of Michigan. SF Motors purchased a former AM General plant in Indiana in 2016, where it plans to build vehicles for the U.S. SF Motors also plans to make its electric powertrain commercially available to other automakers.

Martin Eberhard, the Tesla co-founder who was later pressed to leave the company before heading to VW and later to what is now Lucid Motors, serves as SF Motors’ chief innovation officer. SF Motors acquired Eberhard’s battery company Inevit. SF Motors is headed by its CEO and founder John Zhang.

“Our mission is to transform human mobility — and perhaps our planet — through intelligent EVs,” said Zhang at the launch event in California. “To do this, we can’t follow the same path as every other EV company. We aim to be the company that shares integrated technology solutions and provides the manufacturing expertise to make more EVs a reality. We believe everyone wins with the wider adoption of EV technology.”

SF Motors joins a growing number of Chinese-backed EV startups looking to sell cars in the U.S., including Faraday Future, Lucid Motors, Byton and Nio.

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