Indiana manufacturing plant will be re-tooled and used to build “next-generation EVs”
In another sign of the times, Silicon Valley’s latest electric disruptor, SF Motors, has acquired a Hummer assembly plant from owner AM General, and will re-tool it to construct its own electric cars.
The deal for the Indiana factory includes the land, the plant and some manufacturing equipment, but will not affect AM General’s production of the Hummer for military work, which continues at a separate factory. Financial terms were not disclosed.
SF Motors is backed by China’s Sokon Industry Group –an automobile and engine manufacturer – and only recently established a US presence via the opening of a Santa Barbara office. In a fairly promising appointment, one of the company’s primary consultants is Tesla co-founder Martin Eberhard – whether or not SF Motors’ offering will be competitive may be one thing, but they certainly have the right expertise on board.
The company will retain, after a period of retooling, all of the current employees and maintain approximately 430 jobs. Sokon Industry Group has also committed to “enhancing the economies of the broader South Bend region” and will make approximately $30 million in upgrades to the factory.
In addition to the Hummer H1 and H2 and Ford Transit Connect models, the factory has until now assembled Mercedes R-Class models. SF Motors now intends to use the site to produce “intelligent electric vehicles,” with a focus on using subassemblies, parts and materials “predominantly from US sources.”
In a statement SF CEO John Zhang commented: “This transaction represents a unique opportunity to grow our intelligent electric vehicle business through the addition of an existing production facility and a skilled work force. We are excited to work closely with our new Indiana-based 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.”
Exactly what that next-gen vehicle might look like, it seems far too early to say, but the company is making all the right moves to bring the market something competitive.
The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2017, but remains subject to US and Chinese regulatory approvals.