Tesla has inspired a whole crop of startups to develop their own electric cars. The latest is Silicon Valley-based SF Motors, which unveiled its first two production models this week, the SF5 and SF7. The company plans to begin taking reservations for the SF5 (pictured above) later this year, and to start production next year.
SF Motors follows the roughly the same template as Tesla and other startups like Faraday Future and Nio, offering high-performance, long-range electric cars with promises on autonomous driving and elaborate connected tech.
The company claims to have developed a four-motor electric powertrain that will develop over 1,000 horsepower. SF Motors promises that both models will do zero to 60 mph in under three seconds, and achieve a range of more than 300 miles. What the company calls "protective autonomy" will be added to production vehicles in 2020. SF Motors says it's testing self-driving cars in California, Michigan, and China.
Separating SF Motors from most other electric-car startups is the fact that it already as factories. In 2016, the company bought an Indiana factory from AM General, which previously built Hummer H2 and Mercedes-Benz R-Class vehicles at the facility. SF Motors has a second factory in China. The factories will build cars for their respective local markets, so any vehicles SF Motors sells in the United States will be American made.
SF Motors also claims to have a network of R&D centers in the U.S., China, and Europe, staffed by veterans of companies like Audi, BMW, and Tesla, and even Apple and Facebook. In addition to producing its own electric cars, SF Motors plans to license its powertrains to other automakers in order to rapidly grow the electric-car industry.
Even with factories in place, getting the SF5 and SF7 into production won't be easy. Building cars at scale is a complex process that can trip up newbies with unforeseen issues. Once SF Motors' electric cars start rolling off assembly lines, they will also likely face stiff competition models produced by the company's fellow startups, as well as more established automakers. Building a car hasn't gotten any easier, but the number of people willing to try has increased.