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Trial production of the SF5 (pictured) and SF7 will start later this year (Image: SF Motors)

SF Motors is to add a new research and development facility in Milpitas, California, to bolster its ties with tech talent and suppliers in Silicon Valley. This will be at the new McCarthy Creekside industrial park, and will become operational by the last quarter of 2018 for prototyping and manufacturing of batteries and electric powertrains, and autonomous driving technologies. The facility will also develop intelligent connectivity and user experience features, as well as look at manufacturing processes.

Chief technology officer Yifang Tang said in a statement: “Adding to our existing R&D labs [in Santa Clara, California; Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Stuttgart, Germany] this new facility will conduct extensive design validation testing and low-volume manufacturing necessary to ensure smooth transition to mass production of our batteries and electric powertrains, which are key components of our vehicles… Locating this facility near our Silicon Valley headquarters will strategically ensure quality and efficiency as we prepare to bring our intelligent EVs to market.”

Trial production of SF Motors’ vehicles – the SF5 and SF7 – is to start later this year in Mishawaka, Indiana, and Chongqing, China. The company, part of the Sokon Group, has recently begun to test its autonomous-driving technologies in the Silicon Valley area, and tests are also underway in Michigan and in China. Former Tesla CEO Martin Eberhard is joining the company as chief innovation officer and vice-chairman, following SF Motors’ acquisition of InEVit, his battery modularization and EV chassis architecture start-up.

“Looking ahead, SF Motors targets to achieve protected autonomy in 2020 through fast innovations and iterated developments in multiple technology areas, such as deep learning, sensor fusion, path planning, human machine interface, safety and redundancy, vehicle electronics, to name a few,” said Tang. “We will utilize our strength in system integration as well as supplier partnerships to overcome the many challenges in bringing autonomous driving to the global markets.”

-Farah Alkhalisi