iPhone Assembler Foxconn Unveils 3 New Electric Vehicle Prototypes as it Prepares to Diversify its Business by Building EVs

iPhone Assembler Foxconn Unveils 3 New Electric Vehicle Prototypes as it Prepares to Diversify its Business by Building EVs

Author: Eric Walz   

As the auto industry shifts towards electrification, cars are essentially becoming computers on wheels, especially those that offer autonomous driving capabilities and 5G connectivity. So it makes sense for one of the world's biggest electronics manufacturers to develop an electric car.

Apple's contract manufacturer Foxconn, which has assembled hundreds of missions of iPhones and electronic devices over the years for the technology giant, has unveiled three electric vehicles as the company prepares to diversify its business.

In Oct 2020, Foxconn announced that it aims to provide components or services to around 10% of the world's electric vehicles (EVs) between 2025 and 2027. But now it appears the company's plans are bigger.

Foxconn unveiled three electric vehicle prototypes on Monday at its annual Foxconn Technology Day event in Taipei. The three EV prototypes are named the Model C, Model E and Model T, which are a SUV, sedan and bus. The three vehicles are designed for mass production. The reference designs allow EV companies to customize the vehicles to their own specifications. 

The three EV prototypes were manufactured by Foxtron, a joint venture between Foxconn and Yulon Motor, a Taiwanese automaker that produces Nissan and Mitsubishi cars for the local market. It also has its own brand, Luxgen Motor Co., Ltd. 

Foxconn aims for its electric vehicle production to become a $35 billion business by 2026. The company's Chairman Young Liu said to news outlet Nikkei Asia that Foxconn's $35 billion target is a goal it "must achieve."

The three EV prototypes are based on the designs of the MIH Consortium, a Foxconn-led open software and hardware platform. The open hardware and software platform is called the "MIH EV Open Platform." It includes an EV chassis, electronic architecture and support for autonomous driving. 

The goal of the MIH Consortium is to reshape the traditional automotive supply chain by developing "kits" for automakers that combine all of the necessary hardware and software to shorten development timelines and lower the costs of fully-electric vehicles.

Foxconn will supply automakers with key components for their EVs, but it will also help EV startups by supplying the production capability to bring their vehicles to market. 

"We have done almost one collaboration project each month in the past year to ensure our supply chain capability and potential markets" Liu said during the event. 

Yulon Motor Chairperson Lilian Chen said her company will be one of the earliest to adopt the designs.

The retail price for the Model C is estimated to be around $35,000, which will be competitively priced for the current market. It's expected to enter the market by 2023.

The luxury Model E will be launched afterwards, Foxconn's representatives said. The Model T, which is designed for public transportation services, could be on the road as early as next year in Taiwan.

Regional manufacturing will be a major trend for the EV industry as producing cars close to the markets where they are sold will help manufacturers keep costs down, Liu told Nikkei Asia. He added that Foxconn will soon announce the details of its EV production plans for Europe.

EV startup Fisker Inc. announced earlier this year that Foxconn will build its second electric vehicle. 

In February, Fisker first announced today it entered into a MOU with Foxconn to develop what it calls a "breakthrough electric vehicle" codenamed "Project PEAR" (Personal Electric Automotive Revolution). Projected annual volumes are more than 250,000 units. Production of the new Fisker EV is planned for Q4 2023.

Liu confirmed to news outlet Nikkei Asia in August that Foxconn will build an EV factory in the U.S. and another in Thailand.  

Also during the company's Technology Day, Foxconn also showed off its progress in research and development for the EV supply chain, with a focus on batteries, motors and electrical systems.

Earlier this month the company struck multiple deals worth $280 million with EV startup Lordstown Motors to acquire its manufacturing plant in Ohio and help build its Endurance full-size pickup truck.

Foxconn also plans to build an EV manufacturing facility in Thailand by 2023 to serve Southeast Asian markets as part of its cooperation with Thai oil and gas company PTT.

To gain more control over the supply and development of silicon carbide chips (SiCs), Foxconn announced it had acquired a semiconductor facility in Taiwan. 

Many other EV manufacturers are working to introduce SiC technology in electric vehicle inverters, which is an important part of the overall system.

Silicon carbide inverters offer higher efficiency gains compared with conventional inverters using silicon semiconductors because they produce less heat and are less temperature-sensitive. SiC EV powertrains also have lower cooling demands and a smaller form factor, making them ideal for electric vehicles where size and weight are concerns.

Foxconn is considered to be the single most important production partner for Apple, which is reportedly developing its own electric car. But assembling electric vehicles for others could be its next big opportunity.

Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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