Foxconn accelerates electric vehicles drive with new tech platform

Foxconn has launched a technology platform aimed at helping electric vehicle makers cut costs and launch new models more quickly, as the Taiwanese group pursues a central position in a fast-growing market.

The world’s biggest contract electronics manufacturer aims to become “the Android of EVs”, William Wei, chief technology officer, said at an event on Friday in reference to the open source operating system through which Google created a massive part of the global smartphone industry.

Tesla, the world’s biggest EV maker, has frequently been compared with US smartphone maker Apple.

Foxconn said its open platform would allow it to share important software and hardware designs, ranging from solid-state batteries to data management tools, across an “ecosystem” of developers and manufacturers. The company believes the platform could help shorten the time and reduce funding needed to launch new vehicles.

Young Liu, Foxconn’s chairman, said on Friday that the group was aiming for “a 10 per cent market share by 2025 to 2027, when the global EV market is expected to have a size of about 30m cars globally”.

Foxconn’s push into EVs comes as profit margins for its smartphone manufacturing division, which accounts for the lion’s share of its business, continue to shrink. The spread of electronics beyond gadgets such as computers and smartphones into areas like EVs is forcing the company to diversify.

Analysts say Foxconn is seeking to replicate its long-established dominance in the global manufacturing of personal computers and smartphones, the largest electronics category by shipments over the past 30 years, in the production of EVs. These vehicles are expected to become a dominant force in electronics products in terms of global shipment volume and sales in the coming years.

One of the Taiwanese group’s core strengths is its ability to mass produce components cheaply. “To facilitate [the] application of this business model to the EV market, it is crucial that they . . . influence the basic designs and that there is not too much variance from one brand to another,” said an industry expert who works closely with Foxconn.

Foxconn, which trades as Hon Hai Precision, does not intend to produce entire cars or create its own brand. Mr Liu added that the company was in talks with a number of automakers and is expected to announce several joint-ventures for EV production in November.

Mr Liu argued that automakers’ traditional business model of leading a group of suppliers was no longer viable because they lack some of the technologies most important in EVs.

The company currently has an EV tie-up with Yulon, Taiwan’s largest automaker. It expects a JV with Fiat Chrysler, which was agreed in January, to be formally set up by early next year.

“We hope to apply our experience in supply chain management in the information and communications technology industry over the past 30 to 40 years to this new area,” added Mr Liu.

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