Foxconn made the iPhone in your hand and wants to make the EV in your garage



The Taiwanese company that assembles the iPhones also wants to become a major subcontractor of electric vehicles, a plan bolstered by the purchase of Lordstown Motors. Body

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electric truck plant in Ohio.

Foxconn Technology Group,

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the world’s largest electronics subcontractor, is known to assemble products sold by major tech brands such as Apple Inc.,

Amazon.com Inc. and Alphabet Inc.

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Google.

He now hopes to develop into a more expensive technology. The Foxconn chairman said he wanted to be able to supply three million electric vehicles a year by 2027, which he said would represent around 10% of the global market at the time.

It has entered into a plethora of deals in recent years to gain a foothold across the entire auto supply chain, including semiconductors, components, software, and assembly. Partners include manufacturer Jeep and Chrysler Stellantis NV and Los Angeles-based EV startup Fisker Inc.,

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which seeks to manufacture more than 250,000 vehicles per year in the United States with the help of Foxconn.

Now Foxconn has made a deal to buy the Ohio plant from Lordstown Motors, the electric truck start-up that acquired a former plant from General Motors Co. but struggled to deliver a product. Lordstown Motors has said Foxconn will manufacture Lordstown-branded vehicles, including its first pickup, the Endurance.

Foxconn Chairman Young Liu, speaking in Taiwan in March, said he wanted to be able to supply three million electric vehicles a year by 2027.


Photo:

Ann Wang / Reuters

President Young Liu said the Lordstown plant will accelerate Foxconn’s schedule to have electric vehicle production capacity in North America. People familiar with the plans for the plant said its capacity could be used for other branded customers as well.

Analysts said there was a lot of profit to be made if Foxconn discovered a low-cost assembly of electric vehicles that sold for $ 40,000 or $ 50,000. And the rise of EV startups brings a pool of potential customers looking to leverage Foxconn’s manufacturing expertise to challenge incumbent automakers.

But a car is more than an iPhone on wheels.

“You need a better and bigger supply chain,” said analyst Bakar Sadik Agwan of GlobalData, a consulting firm. “Making electric vehicles is a bit more complex than making smartphones.”

Mr. Liu, the chairman of Foxconn, said in March that Foxconn feels comfortable making electric vehicles because they rely heavily on electronics and software rather than a gasoline engine. Foxconn’s main advantage over traditional automakers is speed, as well as the willingness to prove that it can get through the toughest manufacturing jobs, he said.

“Foxconn is the new kid on the block. We need to build our capacity as soon as possible, ”Liu said.

He told investors in August that the company plans to mass-produce electric vehicles in the United States and Thailand from 2023 and is in talks on several potential locations in Europe.

Lordstown Motors employees demonstrate the metal stamping process used to make their Endurance truck in Lordstown, Ohio.


Photo:

Nate Smallwood for The Wall Street Journal

Above Foxconn’s plans looms the possibility of an Apple EV, a project the Silicon Valley company has been working on for years but has never announced.

“The relationship between Apple and Foxconn could extend from phones to cars,” said Soumen Mandal, analyst at Counterpoint Research. However, Mr Mandal observed that Foxconn has a joint venture in Taiwan that is expected to manufacture cars and start selling them in 2023, which could make Foxconn a competitor to a possible future Apple EV.

It is still unclear whether Apple will put its mark on a vehicle. If so, he would likely consider making cars for American consumers in the United States, given political sensitivities around overseas car production in countries like China.

Foxconn’s Mr. Liu said the expansion of manufacturing in the United States is aimed at meeting customer needs. Apple declined to comment.

Foxconn, officially known as the Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., has taken a broader view of the electric vehicle industry than just vehicle assembly, planning for a future in which branded customers seek its help on certain aspects of car manufacturing rather than the whole deal. Most of the major automakers in developed markets like the United States still like to build their cars themselves.

Foxconn made deals with suppliers of batteries and materials for electric vehicles, and in August bought a semiconductor plant in Taiwan to make car chips. Liu said in September that he hoped to build a complete supply chain for electric vehicles in Taiwan and leverage better semiconductor and battery technology to overcome key barriers to adoption. electric vehicles: long charging time, insufficient range and high prices.

“With these preparations, our electric vehicle customers will no longer have capacity issues,” he said.

William Wei, a former ally of Steve Jobs at Apple, was hired by Foxconn last year and now oversees the development of a software and hardware platform for electric vehicles, essentially a starter kit that manufacturers can customize. to build electric and autonomous cars.

Mr. Wei said at a corporate event a year ago that he wanted Foxconn to be the Android of electric vehicles, a reference to the Google operating system used by smartphone makers around the world.

Write to Yang Jie at jie.yang@wsj.com and Stephanie Yang at stephanie.yang@wsj.com

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