State and local officials gathered with SF Motors executives in May 2018 to celebrate plans to produce electric vehicles at the former AM General commercial assembly plant in Mishawaka. Staff file photo by Santiago Flores
State and local officials gathered with SF Motors executives in May 2018 to celebrate plans to produce electric vehicles at the former AM General commercial assembly plant in Mishawaka. Staff file photo by Santiago Flores
MISHAWAKA — Layoffs were announced Friday at the Seres Automotive plant in Mishawaka, two days after the electric vehicle company’s CEO announced layoffs at its headquarters in California and the suspension of work to develop the SF5, an electric vehicle that would’ve been sold to U.S. consumers.

Plant manager Todd Leahy, who was previously the manager of the AM General Commercial Assembly plant, said “around 30” employees were informed Friday that they would be laid off. Leahy said prior to Friday’s layoffs, there were 81 employees here.

The remaining employees will stay on to complete five SF5 prototypes that are being assembled at the plant and expected to be completed in “early fall,” Leahy said. The development process of those prototypes could still be used if the SF5 program is restarted here.

The company’s plan moving forward is to seek out contract manufacturing deals for auto assembly, which Leahy said wouldn’t necessarily be for electric vehicles. He said Seres is “already in talks with a couple of those (contract manufacturing) opportunities.”

As far as what happens to those remaining employees after the five prototypes are completed, Leahy said it depends on the status of the suspended SF5 program or progress toward a contract to assemble other vehicles.

Before being sold to SF Motors in 2017, the plant was owned by AM General and assembled vehicles on contract for Mercedes-Benz and Hummer.

SF Motors, a subsidiary of Chinese auto manufacturer Sokon, rebranded as Seres Automotive earlier this year and had been working to retool the plant to assemble electric vehicles, with upgrades on the facility’s paint booths, automation for installing front and rear glass and a new booth to calibrate autonomous driving systems, among others.
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