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With Tesla founder’s help, Chinese automaker comes to Bay Area

By David R. Baker

June 13, 2017

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Photo: David Mcnew, AFP / Getty Images

An electric car is plugged into a charging station. While many U.S. consumers have shown little interest in electric vehicles, Californians have been an exception. By the end of last year, the state had about 270,000 electric cars and plug-in hybrids on its roads.

Another Chinese automaker aims to break into California’s growing electric vehicle industry, with a little help from one of Tesla’s founders.

Sokon Industry Group has opened its U.S. headquarters in Santa Clara, the company reported Tuesday. It has also established a research center in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Formerly known as Chongqing Sokon Auto Industry Group, the company last year created a U.S. subsidiary called SF Motors and announced that it had lined up Tesla co-founder and former CEO Martin Eberhard as a consultant.

“As we expand our operations and R&D efforts, we hope to partner with like-minded corporations and recruit the top automotive and tech talent to ensure attainable, clean mobility for future generations,” said John Zhang, CEO of SF Motors.

The Santa Clara office, which will focus on business operations and product planning, employs about 50 people and should have 150 by the year’s end, according to the company.

California has seen a recent influx of electric vehicle companies either from China or backed by Chinese investors. The roster includes Faraday Future, LeEco, Lucid Motors and NextEV.

None of those companies, however, has succeeded so far in bringing an electric car to market.

http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/With-Tesla-founder-s-help-Chinese-automaker-11214190.php

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