America has a new electric car company, SF Motors, which is a subsidiary of Sokon Industry Group. Sokon’s primary business is making automobiles, internal combustion engines, and auto parts. We know almost nothing about the company except that its world headquarters is in Beijing and it established its US headquarters in Silicon Valley (where else?) last month. It also has a research and development center near Ann Arbor, Michigan.
On June 22, SF Motors announced it has entered into an agreement with AM General to purchase its commercial assembly plant located near South Bend, Indiana. The factory was built in 2002 and manufactured the Hummer H2, a civilian version of the HUMVEE, for General Motors until 2009. AM General has a separate production facility nearby that continues to manufacture and repair HUMVEEs for the military. After investing about $30 million to retool and refurbish the facility, SF Motors says it will begin producing “intelligent electric vehicles.”
American Parts, American Workers
What kind of cars will they be? Frankly, no one has any ideas. Unlike Faraday Future, Lucid, Nio, and other prospective electric car manufacturers who are flooding the internet with press releases, teaser photos, and enticing videos, SF has offered no clues about its products other than to say it intends to use parts and materials sourced primarily from American companies.
One good piece of news is that the agreement will keep 430 American workers employed. They are all members of Local 5, the oldest continuously operating UAW local in the country.
John Zhang, CEO of SF Motors, said, “This transaction represents a unique opportunity to grow our intelligent electric vehicle business through the addition of an existing production facility and a skilled workforce. We are excited to work closely with our new team to produce SF Motors’ next generation electric vehicle in South Bend, Indiana, and we look forward to becoming a part of the local community and a strong contributor to Indiana’s economic growth.”
From Gas Pigs To Efficient Electrics
There is a fine irony that a former Hummer factory will be transformed into a place where electric cars are assembled. Eight years ago, another company purchased a shuttered auto assembly plant that once built cars with internal combustion engines and turned it into a world class factory for electric cars. That experiment worked out well for Tesla Motors. Hopefully, SF Motors will enjoy similar success.
South Bend, Indiana, has a deep and abiding connection to transportation in America. In the 19th century, it was home to the factory where the Studebaker brothers built wagons for the pioneers. Later, Studebaker became a major car company, a business that ended with the far-ahead-of-its-time Avanti. It would be wonderful if SF Motors could make South Bend an important part of the American auto industry again with cars designed for the 21st century.
Source: SF Motors