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EV Startup SERES Hires Auto Industry Veteran to Lead its U.S. Operations

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【Summary】Chinese electric vehicle startup SERES announced today that its board of directors has named James Taylor as CEO. Taylor previously served as general manager and chief marketing officer of Cadillac before taking over the CEO role at former GM truck division Hummer.

Eric Walz    May 29, 2019 1:04 PM PT
 EV Startup SERES Hires Auto Industry Veteran to Lead its U.S. Operations
The SERES SF5 electric SUV

SERES, a Chinese electric vehicle startup announced today that its board of directors has named James Taylor as CEO. Taylor will lead a new business unit that will focus on electric vehicle development, manufacturing and partnerships in North America.

Taylor is an automotive industry veteran with a lengthy resume. He formally served as general manager and chief marketing officer of Cadillac before taking over the CEO role at Hummer, the former truck brand of General Motors. James also served as CEO of Workhorse Group, and later Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at Karma Automotive.

"We're delighted to have James on board to lead the next phase of our development in North America," said John Zhang, founder and President of SERES. "James brings many years of experience leading global automotive brands such as Cadillac, Hummer and Karma. He's exactly the person we've wanted to bring our U.S. factory online and launch vehicles and technologies in the North American market."

Seres in among a new crop of promising EV startups looking to compete with Tesla in the growing electric vehicle space. The company's U.S. headquarters is located in Silicon Valley—right in Tesla's backyard.

SERES is One of the Few EV Startups That Owns a U.S. Assembly Plant

Seres already has a head start on its competitors. The automaker is one of the few EV startups that wholly owns an automotive assembly plant in the U.S.

The company purchased a former AM General plant in Mishawaka, Indiana in 2017. The 50-year-old plant once built the Hummer H2 when the brand was owned by General Motors. General Motors discontinued the Hummer brand in 2010.

The Indiana factory most recently produced the Mercedes Benz R-Class minivans before production ended in Oct 2017.

Mishawaka_Indiana_Assembly _Plant.jpg

Seres purchased this sprawling former AM General plant in Mishawaka, Indiana and is outfitting it for EV production.

Seres calls the facility an "electric vehicle assembly plant" where it plans to build over 50,000 electric vehicles per year. Seres invested $160 million to purchase the plant and outfit it for electric vehicle production.

The electric automaker's fully-electric SF5 SUV was first unveiled in March 2018 at the company's headquarter in Santa Clara, California. The company plans to build a larger, seven-passenger version called the SF7.

The battery-powered SF5 will be available in two models, the SF5 EV and the longer-range version called the SF5 EVR. Both versions features a lightweight aluminum chassis designed for maximum performance.

The SF5's powertrain has a maximum power output of 510 kw producing around 680 horsepower with 767 ft lbs of torque. The vehicle can go from 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds with a top speed of 155 mph.

For Taylor, its sort of a homecoming. When he served as CEO of GM brand Hummer, it operated the very same plant Seres purchased. It is now it is being retooled to build zero-emissions electric vehicles instead of gas-guzzling trucks.

"I am deeply impressed by the technology the company has developed in their Silicon Valley facility, including motors, batteries and control systems, and believe that SERES can leverage this technology not only for its own portfolio of EVs, but also to support other OEMs," said Taylor.

In Oct 2017, Seres (then SF Motors) purchased InEVit, a EV battery modularization startup headed by Tesla co-founder, Martin Eberhard. Eberhard had previously worked with Seres as a key strategic advisor. He joined the company as Chief Innovation Officer before leaving in July 2018. Seres developed its own proprietary battery cells for the SF5, with a leading energy density and a longer life-cycle, according to the company.

Seres is aiming to be a global EV brand. In addition to its Silicon Valley headquarters, the EV startup has additional offices in Ann Arbor, Mich., Tokyo, and Chongqing, China.

Seres plans to deliver its first electric vehicle in China by the end of the year, followed by Europe and the U.S. in 2020.

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