Chinese electric-car startup SF Motors bought Tesla founder's battery-tech firm


Chinese electric-car startup SF Motors headquarters

Chinese electric-car startup SF Motors headquarters

Enlarge Photo

Although Elon Musk is the name now associated with Tesla, the current CEO was not a founding figure in the electric-car startup.

That honor goes to two men, Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning. Eberhard subsequently sparred with Musk in and outside of court.

Following his time at Tesla, Eberhard moved on to consult for Volkswagen and eventually founded another company: InEVit.

DON'T MISS: Tesla Battle Gets Uglier: Founder Eberhard Sues CEO Elon Musk (2009)

For his next act, Eberhard will join SF Motors after the Chinese electric-car startup purchased his battery-technology firm.

SF Motors announced the acquisition last October, and with the purchase, Eberhard will become the company's Chief Innovation Officer as well as Vice Chairman of the Board.

Notably, InEVit continued to work on a battery-module design that's chemistry- and form-factor-agnostic, to create more energy-dense batteries that will also simplify manufacturing and improve safety.

Chinese electric-car startup SF Motors headquarters

Chinese electric-car startup SF Motors headquarters

Enlarge Photo

Eberhard had previously worked with the Chinese company as a strategic advisor, but it will now task him with developing a new electric powertrain for automakers to license and for its own future electric cars.

SF Motors has already made some notable leaps toward its goal of producing an electric car of its own.

The company previously patented a dedicated electric-vehicle platform, its own battery module design, and specific manufacturing techniques to bring future electric powertrains and vehicles to production.

READ THIS: Tesla Founder Eberhard Leading VW Efforts in Silicon Valley (2010)

Eberhard has spent much of his recent career working to perfect batteries and their packaging. 

In 2010, while working for VW, the former Tesla CEO began research to package small "commodity" lithium-ion cells for automotive use.

Despite minor advances, major battery breakthroughs have been minimal in recent years.

Teaser for Fisker EMotion debuting on August 17, 2017

Teaser for Fisker EMotion debuting on August 17, 2017

Enlarge Photo

The next frontier will include solid-state batteries for ultra-fast charging times and longer ranges.

Reborn electric-car startup Fisker continues to work on the battery construction and believes they'll be ready for production next decade.

The company recently announced patents for its first solid-state batteries, though they're not ready for automotive use yet.

CHECK OUT: Fisker still aims at solid-state electric-car batteries, as patents attest

Toyota's first battery-electric car may also employ solid-state batteries, though it will continue to develop hydrogen-powered fuel cells as well.

At Eberhard's former company, Tesla works to move the Model 3 from "production hell" and recently debuted its electric semi and second-generation Roadster electric sports car.

The Tesla cofounder's legacy, however, may depend on how successful Tesla is at launching that higher-production, lower-priced electric car this year and next.

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