Foxconn has made a nice business for itself by manufacturing products for other companies. It makes most of the iPhones Apple sells but is relatively unknown to consumers because its name doesn’t appear on many of the products it manufacturers.
At the company’s annual Tech Day this week, Reuters reports chairman Liu Young-way said the company wants to leverage its manufacturing expertise to become a major manufacturer of electric cars. “Based on our past records for the PC and cellphone markets — we’re at about 40–45% of the overall market share. So, ambitions-wise, hopefully we are able to achieve the same kind of achievement like in the information and communications technology industry, but we will start small, which is about 5% in 2025,” Liu said. “I hope one day we can do Tesla cars for Tesla.”
Liu said Foxconn is not in the business of selling its own EV brands but wants its customers to sell “a lot” of EVs, which it will manufacture in Taiwan, Thailand, and the United States. Foxconn is negotiating with partners in Indonesia and India, Liu added. He said the company will leverage its “48 year old roots in ICT manufacturing” to slash design times for electric cars in half and reduce and slash development costs by a third.
Recently, the company began manufacturing the Fisker Ocean electric SUV at the former Lordstown factory where it has also started building the long awaited Endurance electric pickup truck. That factory will also produce an electric car for Indy 1, a startup company based in California, and the Monarch MK-V electric tractor, according to CNN Business.
It’s not clear how much Foxconn engineering is involved with the Fisker and the Endurance. A spokesperson for Fisker told CNN the Pear may have some Foxconn components or software but will be largely CEO Henrik Fisker’s own design. The Lordstown Endurance pickup has no components from Foxconn, a spokesperson said, but the two companies have agreed to work together on future vehicles based on Foxconn engineering.
“Despite the challenges of conflict in Europe and COVID globally, Foxconn has maintained our EV strategy. Supply chain resilience has always been Foxconn’s DNA. Our global footprint in 24 countries gives us a huge advantage to meet EV industry demands,” he added. “Our heartfelt hope is that Taiwan can seize this once-in-a-hundred-years, rare EV business opportunity.”
During the Tech Day event, Foxconn introduced two prototype electric cars, the Model B sports car and the Model V all-terrain pickup truck. At last year’s event, the company introduced three prototypes — an SUV, a sedan, and a bus. Foxtron electric buses are already in service in some Taiwanese cities. The Model V is a 5 passenger, 4 door pickup with a carrying capacity of 2,000 pounds and towing capacity of 6,000 pounds. It is the first pickup truck designed exclusively in Taiwan.
Foxconn, like many manufacturers, says it is hard at work developing solid state batteries that will charge faster, last longer, and cost less. We shall see.
The backdrop to all of this news from Foxconn is the geopolitical realities involving Taiwan and China. Xi Jinping used last week’s annual CCP congress meeting to rattle some sabers in Taiwan’s direction after House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island earlier this year. Chinese and Taiwanese fighter pilots are playing a dangerous game of chicken every day over the Taiwan Strait that separates the two. Who knows how that pas de deux is going to play out?
We also have to be a little bit skeptical about Foxconn building cars for Tesla, which seems perfectly content to build its own cars, thank you very much. Most other major manufacturers are reluctant to let someone else build their cars for them. Although companies like Magna do manufacture many cars for many other companies, they tend to be small-volume vehicles like the Jaguar I-PACE, not mass-market cars.
No one can accuse Foxconn of not thinking big. It has a well earned international reputation for being a contract manufacturer. But as Elon Musk might say, “Building smartphones is easy. Building electric cars is hard.” Speaking of Elon, he greatly annoyed many people in Taiwan recently by suggesting — on Twitter, naturally — that Taiwan should just let China have some control over the island in order to avoid the possibility of armed conflict. Those remarks were hardly designed to curry favor with Foxconn or any other Taiwanese business entities.
Who exactly Foxconn will build electric cars for is unclear. Perhaps Liu Young-way has cards he isn’t showing.
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