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SF Motors now testing self-driving cars in California, Michigan

One of Silicon Valley's most hush-hush "Tesla killer" startups finally seems ready to start talking.

SF Motors headquarters
SF Motors and Sokon's new Santa Clara quarters is just one part of their North American footprint.
SF Motors

SF Motors, a self-driving EV startup that's shrouded in secrecy, might finally be ready to come into the light. The company has announced that it's kicked off testing its autonomous tech on public roads in California and Michigan, and it plans to reveal its first concept car at an event in Silicon Valley later this month. 

The startup, which is funded by Chinese mini-truck and auto parts manufacturer, Chongqing Sokon Industry Group, bought a production plant in South Bend, Indiana last year. Officials have not yet disclosed what it plans to do with the former A.M. General facility that previously built HMMWV "Humvee" military vehicles, but the company has made its ambitions to develop autonomous, connected EVs public.

According to Yfan Tang, the company's chief technical officer, "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 [and] vehicle electronics, to name a few…"

SF Motors appears to be using a Lincoln MKZ as a test bed for its self-driving tech.

SF Motors

SF Motors has quietly cherry-picked some of the mobility scene's best and brightest in California, China and beyond, and counts Martin Eberhard among its key leaders. The former Tesla founder and CEO serves as the company's chief strategy officer.

With posh new headquarters in Santa Clara, a factory in Chonqing, China and R&D labs in Ann Arbor, Stuttgart and Beijing, this company could be a real player in the not-too-distant future. Of course, the auto industry has seen a number of so-called "Tesla killers" rise and fall without ever getting a single car into showrooms, so we'll have to wait and see.