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Why this tech startup with an 'exploding market' is launching in Sacramento

The S-ONE motor by Highlands Power is a new electric motor that is smaller and more efficient than motors currently used in electric vehicles. The company announced Wednesday it will establish its headquarters in Sacramento.
The S-ONE motor by Highlands Power is a new electric motor that is smaller and more efficient than motors currently used in electric vehicles. The company announced Wednesday it will establish its headquarters in Sacramento. rlillis@sacbee.com

It's starting off small, but a new company that manufactures electric motors is moving to Sacramento - and local officials think it could be the start of something big.

Highlands Power announced Wednesday it will set up shop at The Urban Hive co-working space on Alhambra Boulevard. The company will launch with 10 employees, with plans to grow to 150 in the next couple years, CEO Dimitrios Dovas said.

Dovas said his company chose to locate in Sacramento due to its proximity to investors in Silicon Valley, its access to engineering students at local universities and because many companies here already are building the components the company needs to assemble its motors. He called the electric motor world "an exploding market" and said he is in discussions with several large automakers who are interested in buying his motors for electric vehicles.

The S-ONE motor is smaller and more efficient than electric motors currently used in vehicles, Dovas said.

The city of Sacramento provided $100,000 to the company to lure them here. Mayor Darrell Steinberg said Highlands Power will help Sacramento become "the state and national leader" in the fields of alternative fuel technology and autonomous vehicles. Volkswagen is investing $44 million in Sacramento on electric vehicles as part of its punishment for an air pollution scandal.

"Success doesn't happen overnight, but you have to build the foundation," the mayor said. "If (Highlands Power's technology) isn't revolutionary, it's pretty close."

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