Apple Inc’s local manufacturing partner Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密), known as Foxconn Technology Group (富士康科技集團) outside of Taiwan, is setting up a vehicle venture, strengthening its automotive capabilities at a time when technology companies, including its California ally, are looking to expand in automaking.
Hon Hai is joining forces with Chinese automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co (浙江吉利控股集團) to provide production and consulting services to global automotive enterprises, the companies said in a statement yesterday.
The production and consulting services are related to whole vehicles, parts, intelligent drive systems and automotive ecosystem platforms, Hon Hai said in a filing with the Taiwan Stock Exchange.
Each party is to hold a 50 percent stake in the new joint venture, FuTaiHua Industrial (Shenzhen) Ltd (富泰華工業深圳), with Hon Hai appointing three directors, including the chairperson, to the venture’s five-member board and Geely appointing two, the filing said.
Amid reports of Apple considering making its own electric vehicles (EVs), Hon Hai has been bulking up its automotive muscles swiftly. Such moves might help the company become a major contender to make vehicles for its largest customer.
With development work still at an early stage, Apple would take at least half a decade to launch an autonomous electric vehicle, people with knowledge of the efforts have told Bloomberg News.
That suggests the company is in no hurry to decide on potential auto-industry partners.
Hon Hai in October last year unveiled its first-ever EV chassis and a software platform aimed at helping automakers bring models to the market faster.
It plans to deliver its first development kit in April, with Hon Hai chairman Young Liu (劉揚偉) saying that EV-related business in the first half of this year would be “very good.”
Hon Hai’s key unit, Foxconn Technology Co (鴻準精密), is reportedly expanding a plant to develop automotive metal parts.
Earlier this month, Hon Hai signed a manufacturing deal with embattled Chinese electric-vehicle start-up Byton Ltd (拜騰) with the aim to start mass production of the Byton M-Byte by the first quarter of next year.
Setting up an auto plant can cost billions of US dollars and take years, which is probably why Apple is talking to potential manufacturing partners.
The company has continued to investigate building its self-driving vehicle system for a third-party auto partner rather than its own vehicle, the people familiar with matter have said, and the company could ultimately abandon its own vehicle efforts in favor of this approach.
Other technology companies seeking to expand into the autonomous driving space have also sought partnerships.
Alphabet Inc’s self-driving unit Waymo has worked with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, while Amazon.com Inc has tapped Rivian Automotive Inc for cooperation over delivery vans.
This week, Geely struck a pact with search-engine giant Baidu Inc (百度) to set up a venture to make intelligent EVs.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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