Photo: SF Motors

Several Chinese-backed electric car startups are vying to sell vehicles in the U.S. by 2019—and on Wednesday, another named SF Motors joined the fray, introducing what it says is a 1000-horsepower all-electric crossover that it expects to take preorders on by the end of the year. What it’s doing to stand out is interesting.

The car has one standout feature among the crowd of hopeful competitors. Included in the SF5 is a driver monitoring system that, SF Motors claims, can detect if you’re intoxicated and prevent you from driving, according to CNBC. It’s unclear how the system would work, but we’ve reached out to SF Motors for clarity and we’ll update the post if we hear back.

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At a press event Wednesday, SF Motors said it aimed to put the luxury all-electric crossover—dubbed the SF5—intro production by 2019, putting it on a timeline with other Chinese-backed startups like Byton and Faraday Future.

John Zhang, SF Motors’ CEO, told Automotive News that it has spent “millions on our product” over the last two years, “focusing on powertrain development and manufacturing capabilities in the U.S. and China.”

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“We’re very close to ready,” he told the news outlet.

That’s not unlike what other overly-ambitious EV startups have said in recent years, but at the very least, the SF5 looks sharp. SF Motors says it can handle 310 miles of range on a single charge with the top trim, and can deliver 1000 HP with a 0-60 time of under 3 seconds. That puts it in line with the Tesla Model S and X, and basically every other concept car pushed out by the various Chinese-backed startups in recent years.

Few other specs were readily available. Zhang told Automotive News that SF Motors’ factories will be ready to start preproduction by the fall, with the goal of making customer deliveries by the end of 2019's second quarter. Between the experiences of Faraday Future and Lucid Motors, I think it’s worth stressing how ambitious of a timeline this is.

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Maybe 2018's the year skeptics are proven wrong and next year brings on a crush of top-tier EVs. Maybe. We’ll see.

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