Best known for its work assembling Apple Inc.'s iPhone, Foxconn, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. 2317 2.44%, has been looking to expand beyond electronics since founder Terry Gou stepped down in 2019. Sales of iPhones have slowed, and the contract manufacturing business has suffered from relatively low profit margins. Earlier this year, the Taiwanese manufacturer agreed to assemble cars for Los Angeles-based electric-vehicle startup Fisker Inc. but didn't say where they would be manufactured. Mr. Liu said Tuesday that while the decision on where to manufacture Fisker's new vehicle hasn't been finalized, it made sense to make it in Wisconsin, where the company has a factory. Foxconn has formed several partnerships in its push into electric vehicles, including with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV--now Stellantis NV.--and China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group.
For a century, the automobile was a system of interoperating mechanics: engine, transmission, drive shaft, brakes, etc. As those mechanics evolved, electronic sensors and processors were brought in to assist them, but the concepts changed little. The result was cars with dozens or hundreds of specialized microchips that didn't talk to each other. Now that auto makers are moving to electric motors, elaborate entertainment systems and adaptive cruise control, cars need central computers to control all these things--why not use them to control everything? At the hardware level, this might just mean fewer chips handling more of a car's functions. Yet it has profound implications for what future cars will be capable of, how car makers will make money, and who will survive--and thrive--in what could soon be a global automotive industry made unrecognizable to us today.
Foxconn may in fact be heading to Michigan, according to Gov. Rick Snyder. Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou was quoted in Chinese media reports as saying the company, a major supplier for Apple (AAPL), might open a new facility in Michigan to research new automobile technology like self-driving vehicles. Michigan, the home of General Motors (GM), Ford (F) and Fiat Chrysler (FCAU), would be the second U.S. location for Foxconn. The Taiwanese electronics manufacturer recently announced plans to build a massive $10 billion plant in Wisconsin. Gov. Snyder is optimistic that Foxconn will open a facility in Michigan, but said what exactly it is has not been determined and it could be a few months before any potential deal takes shape.
Sony has revealed plans to start an electric car company, making it the latest electronics manufacturer to target the automotive sector. The Japanese tech firm is "exploring a commercial launch" of electric vehicles, and will launch a new company, Sony Mobility Inc, in the spring, its chairman and president, Kenichiro Yoshida, told a news conference before the Consumer Electronics Show in the US. Yoshida on Wednesday presented a prototype sport utility vehicle, the Vision-S 02, which uses the same electric vehicle platform as the previously announced Vision-S 01, a coupe that began testing on public roads in Europe from December 2020. "With our imaging and sensing, cloud, 5G and entertainment technologies combined with our content mastery, we believe Sony is well positioned as a creative entertainment company to redefine mobility," he said. An increasing number of consumer electronics companies have looked into targeting the burgeoning electric car market.