SF Motors has become the latest Chinese-owned company to unveil plans to break into the US electric vehicle market, at a time when a growing tech threat from China has rattled Washington. The push by China’s EV companies comes in the face of US unease about Chinese leadership in the next big technology markets.
That contributed to the White House’s decision last week to impose higher tariffs on some Chinese imports, and to threaten retaliation over the pressure American companies have faced to give up their technology to their Chinese counterparts. Earlier this month, Tesla boss Elon Musk complained that his company was not allowed to own its own assembly plants outright in China, while there are “five 100 [per cent] China-owned EV companies in the US”. He also pointed to the 25 per cent tariff on Tesla cars exported to China, 10 times the levy on vehicles moving in the opposite direction.
John Zhang, chief executive of SF Motors, a subsidiary of Chinese automaker Sokon Industry Group, claimed his company was on an equal footing with Tesla in the US, removing the risk of retaliation from Washington. “So far we think we should be all right [as] some of our manufacturing and servicing is in the US,” Mr Zhang said just before SF Motors’ unveiling late on Wednesday of two electric vehicles it plans to launch in the US. The first, a mid-range crossover SUV, is due to go into trial production before the end of this year. Recommended The Big Read Electric cars: China’s highly charged power play
The Chinese-owned company has acquired a plant in Indiana, and claims to be the only EV maker with its own assembly facilities in both China and the US. The heavily automated plant is set to bring “a few hundred” jobs to Indiana, Mr Zhang said. SF Motors follows other Chinese-owned electric carmakers to base their US operations in Silicon Valley, including Nio and Byton.