The Chinese EV startup Seres, formerly known as SF Motors, has fired 90 employees at its Silicon Valley base as well as officially putting off the US launch of their electric SUV SF5.
+ + Kindly read our update below + +
An unnamed employee said that before the cuts, around 300 people worked at the factory and that cuts affect all areas of the business, and people have been let go from “sales, marketing, IT, HR, legal, operations, and design”. The company itself was not available for comment.
It is unclear whether or when Seres will pick up the sale of the electric SUV, although the company had been gearing up for serial production of the vehicle not long ago. Their parent company Sokon did add that the US arm would remain and become more independent; “managing its budget and goals.” What changed in the last months is still unclear, but it has been a rough time for Chinese-American EV startups, as Faraday Future also had trouble paying employees, and Nio faced legal problems with their investors.
A letter from Seres co-CEO James Taylor cited a recent downturn in the Chinese economy as the reason for the layoffs, as well as the trade war with the USA. His tone certainly made it sound like this was a simple delay, however: “At a time when Sokon is managing so many dynamic challenges, it is simply too much in the short term to also attempt to launch a new brand and product type in another new market.” His plan now is to focus on “short-term survival and long-term success”.
Update 18.07.2019: Seres is aiming to sell its electric platform or a to enter a technology-sharing partnership instead of launching and establishing its own finished electric car. The Chinese company has decided to release the platform with battery pack, controller and motor technology to UK-based OEMs. This strategy should be more realistic than exporting finished cars to the UK from China or the US in a highly competitive market.
This Seres electric platform is built around a 90kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The platform can be configured with either one or two motors, in total rating 510kW. This electric powertrain currently underpins the Seres electric SUV SF5 – which is not unsimilar to the Jaguar I-Pace.
At the FISITA conference in London Yifan Tang, Seres chief technology officer told Autocar “We have met with some potential UK partners already.”