Silicon Valley electric vehicle startup aims to accelerate the growth of the EV industry at large through a premium consumer vehicle brand and by supporting other players in core EV technologies and manufacturing. For the past two years, SF Motors has been quietly assembling all the capabilities needed, including a world-class team, global R&D centers, and dual manufacturing facilities in the United States and China.
Now, the company announced its latest technological advances and a new line of intelligent electric vehicles at an invitation-only event at their Santa Clara headquarters, in the heart of Silicon Valley.
Led by Founder and CEO John Zhang, SF Motors introduced its global business model, progress in electric and autonomous driving technology, e-powertrain, and two new electric vehicles designed around customer-centric principles. The technological advances will be made available to others who share SF Motors’ vision for the electric vehicle industry. The new electric vehicles are the SF5 and the SF7. The SF5 will be available for pre-order by the end of 2018 and will hit the road in 2019.
“Our mission is to transform human mobility—and perhaps our planet—through intelligent EVs,” said Zhang at the debut event. “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.”
Leading integrated technology solutions to enable safety, performance, and range
SF Motors sets a new bar with its developments in the emerging areas of electric and intelligent technologies. SF Motors has created a proprietary powertrain that includes custom motors, gearboxes, battery cells and packs, as well as electronic controllers—giving the company extraordinary control and flexibility in the design of their vehicles. The company has also focused on intelligent technologies to deliver new levels of autonomy and connectivity.
SF Motors has developed a flexible motor system allowing vehicle design using one, two, three, or four motor configurations. At the top end, the powerful four-motor system will deliver over 1000HP, meaning vehicles can accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in under 3 seconds. The company’s motors, motor controllers, and gearboxes are key to this, with peak power ranging from 100KW to 400KW.
In order to provide greater driving convenience and ease range anxiety, SF Motors has developed a range-extension platform with a highly efficient, high-power onboard generator. This feature further extends the driving range for the company’s vehicles.
SF Motors has developed its own proprietary battery cells, with a leading energy density and a long cycle life. SF Motors has also developed a patented battery pack system, enabling range of more than 300 miles (EPA) or 500 km (NEDC). The patented battery pack system design puts safety and reliability first, leveraging an advanced Battery Management System (BMS), liquid-cool thermal management system, and unique mechanical structures.
The company is also experimenting with next-generation battery modules that will integrate directly into the vehicle chassis. This design will also support rapid manufacturing using laser welding to connect the battery cells.
In keeping with its focus on sustainability, the company is advancing a battery recycling strategy, developing energy storage products to find second applications in homes and offices, and enabling the batteries which power its vehicles to live a second life.
To ensure full control over performance optimization, the company has developed all its electronic controllers in-house. These controllers use advanced, unique algorithms to enable instantaneous all-wheel-drive torque vectoring. The company’s secure gateway unit provides a constant protection barrier for the vehicle’s data and over-the-air software updates.
In the field of intelligent technology, SF Motors has introduced the concept of “protective autonomy,” creating systems that handle typical driving tasks with limited input from humans. These systems use deep neural network-based computer vision, combined with the accuracy of LiDAR sensor perception, to power a driver and vehicle monitoring system that creates a safer ride for all. With these developments, SF Motors is quickly establishing its position as a leader in the field of intelligent EVs. The company is already road-testing its technology in California, Michigan, and China with the goal of bringing “protective autonomy” to the market in 2020.
Delivering a quality at scale with expertise from around the world
SF Motors will begin vehicle production this year at its state of the art Industry 4.0 facilities in the U.S. and China, targeting a total capacity of 200,000 units per year. To ensure the highest quality production across both facilities, SF Motors has partnered with top equipment makers and suppliers like Dürr, Siemens, AFT, Bosch, Infineon technologies, Samsung SDI, and LGC to outfit their facilities and support their production.
Intelligent production with “big data” is key to SF Motors’ success, and the company continues to invest heavily in automation, with body shops and process quality control centers that are 100 percent automated. On the other hand, its investment in big data and IT technologies connects the company’s U.S. and China facilities, enabling them to share data and learnings in real-time to improve production and maintain quality standards.
It is important to SF Motors that vehicles sold in America are made in America, which is why SF Motors acquired their Indiana factory in 2016. This former AM General plant has a legacy of producing high-end vehicles like the Hummer H2 and Mercedes R Class, and has been retooled for premium EV production. The company is also providing extensive training to Indiana employees so they can operate one of the most innovative and sophisticated EV plants in the U.S. Vice President and former Governor of Indiana, Mike Pence, congratulated the company for its investment in Indiana, its efforts to preserve manufacturing jobs, and its dedication to electric vehicle innovations.
A customer centric design philosophy that transcends national borders
With its customer centric philosophy, SF Motors believes that the design of an intelligent EV should provide the ultimate driving experience, intuitive vehicle awareness, and stunning visual design. SF Motors announced its first two vehicles, the SF5 & SF7. With these vehicles, SF Motors has created a driving experience that measures up to the best high-performance cars on the road today. The cars are built around the company’s integrated powertrain, enabling long range, fast acceleration, and exceptional driving control. The design philosophy of these cars is rooted in customer centered design, and includes intelligent technologies that focus on autonomous driving, connectivity, and Human Machine Interface (HMI).
The company’s SF5 model exemplifies those design principles with its human-machine interface, intelligent air suspension, fastback silhouette, accelerated roofline, Sigma-shaped lights, integrated charge port opening, and other performance-enhancing features.
A global, scalable business model that connects leading people, partners, and infrastructure
Inherent in SF Motors’ global business model is the intent to pursue industry collaboration and development with partners to quickly scale industry-wide production of intelligent EVs. SF Motors recognizes that this global ambition requires a global footprint. The company is headquartered in Silicon Valley with technology and design centers in the U.S., Europe, and China.
Today, SF Motors continues to attract the best and brightest team from around the world and is cultivating talent from global-scale market leaders like BMW and Audi, innovative icons like Apple and Facebook, and early EV entrants like Tesla. SF Motors is committed to open sharing within the fast-growing EV industry, enabling best-in-class intelligent EVs to be produced at scale to satisfy global demand.
Increasing EV adoption by accelerating the industry
SF Motors is taking a unique and differentiated approach to the market – it aims to make its vision of broader access to EVs a reality through win-win partnerships with others. The company aims to integrate electric and intelligent technology solutions and provide the manufacturing expertise to help accelerate the EV industry.
Specifically, SF Motors has committed to make its powertrain available to other automotive manufacturers, to share its local market understanding and global manufacturing network with new entrants, and incubate new technologies with strategic partners to ready them for industrial scale.