SF Motors, a Silicon Valley electric vehicle (EV) startup and subsidiary of Shanghai-based Sokon Industry Group (earlier post), announced its latest technological advances and a new line of intelligent electric vehicles at an event at its Santa Clara headquarters. The new EVs 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.
SF Motors has created a proprietary powertrain that includes custom motors, gearboxes, battery cells and packs, as well as electronic controllers—giving the company 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 more 1000 hp, 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 also developed a range-extension platform with a highly efficient, high-power onboard generator.
SF Motors has developed its own proprietary battery cells, with a leading energy density and a 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.
(SF Motors acquired InEVit Inc., an electric vehicle (EV) battery modularization startup headed by former Tesla CEO Martin Eberhard in October 2017.)
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. The company says that these controllers use 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. 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.
SF Motors will begin vehicle production this year at its Industry 4.0 facilities in the US and China, targeting a total capacity of 200,000 units per year. SF Motors has partnered with top equipment makers and suppliers such as Dürr, Siemens, AFT, Bosch, Infineon technologies, Samsung SDI, and LGC to outfit the facilities and support production.
The company is investing heavily in automation, with body shops and process quality control centers that are 100% 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.
SF Motors acquired its Indiana factory in 2016; this former AM General plant has a legacy of producing high-end vehicles such as the Hummer H2 and Mercedes R Class, and has been retooled for premium EV production.
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.