Foxconn Technology Group took the wraps off two new electric vehicles on Tuesday, prototypes that embody the iPhone maker’s ambitions of carving out a slice of a market led by the likes of Tesla.
The company, whose main listed arm is Hon Hai Precision Industry, unveiled the Model B crossover SUV and Model V pickup truck at its event in Taipei. Foxconn founder Terry Gou, 72, introduced the Model B by driving it onto the stage. The pickup will be produced in Taiwan, Thailand and the US, Hon Hai Chairman Young Liu said.
Foxconn is hoping to replicate the way it muscled into electronics assembly to become the biggest manufacturing partner for Apple and other global brands. It’s aiming to build clients’ electric vehicles from the chassis up, with no plans to sell vehicles under its own brand.
“After we announced our plans to build EVs in 2020, many people questioned whether Foxconn can build cars,” Liu said. “Then when we unveiled three models a year later, everyone thought, ‘wow, how did they manage to develop three models in just a year?’ That’s the speed we’re operating at.”
None of the cars Foxconn has unveiled so far are destined to go on sale to consumers but are reference designs, intended to show off the company’s capabilities to potential big-brand clients. The Model C prototype introduced previously is now a production vehicle that is branded as the Luxgen n7 by Taiwanese automaker Yulon Group.
Liu said Foxconn’s expertise in managing supply chains gives it an advantage in developing new models faster than rivals. Asked when Foxconn’s production volumes will surpass those of Tesla, Liu said he hoped Foxconn would one day manufacture cars for the US giant.
The Model B, which uses the same platform as the Model C, was designed with Italian house Pininfarina SpA. The crossover SUV has a full-length glass roof and a range of 450 kilometers (280 miles) on one charge.
Foxconn also said it is developing its own solid-state batteries.
The Taiwanese company created Foxtron Vehicle Technologies in 2020 as a venture with Yulon. It then embarked on a flurry of activity, buying Lordstown Motors Ohio plant to create a US base, launching an open EV platform and inking a manufacturing deal with startup Fisker.
Demand for EVs is soaring as consumers and governments embrace the technology, spurring a worldwide shift for the tech and automotive industries. But Foxconn’s trying to get into a field already crowded by aggressive rivals from Tesla to China’s Nio and BYD Co. to Xpeng. It’s also attracting new entrants including Xiaomi.
One major point of uncertainty is how the Biden administration’s recently unfurled raft of restrictions on chip exports to China will shake up the global EV industry. Xpeng has warned that the curbs on chips could potentially hammer Chinese EV makers.