Hon Hai mulls plan to produce electric cars in North America

Taipei, March 17 (CNA) Taiwan-based manufacturing giant Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. is expected to decide later this year whether to manufacture electric cars in North America.

Hon Hai Chairman Liu Young-way (劉揚偉) told reporters Tuesday the company is mulling the possibility of setting up electric car production lines in the U.S. state of Wisconsin or Mexico.

As Hon Hai, also known as Foxconn on the global market, already has production sites in Wisconsin and Mexico, the company would not need to make much additional investment in infrastructure in the two locations for electric car production lines, Liu said.

Although electric car investments in Wisconsin or Mexico would take less time to get up and running, Hon Hai still needs time to evaluate related investment plans, he added.

There has been much speculation as to whether the company will invest in electric cars in North America since it signed a memorandum of understanding in late February with U.S.-based Fisker Inc. for the two firms to mass produce electric cars under the brand of Fisker in the fourth quarter of 2023.

In recent years, Hon Hai has been promoting the “3 plus 3” initiative to expand from its contract manufacturing business into hardware and software integration. The development of electric cars is central to that initiative as is building an electric car supply chain.

The “3 plus 3” initiative refers to three emerging industries — electric cars, robots and digital healthcare — that are being developed through the application of artificial intelligence, semiconductor and communication technologies.

Liu has said electric cars are at the top of Hon Hai’s business agenda in 2021 and stressed that the company remains focused on taking a 10 percent share of the global electric car market.

On Tuesday, Liu said Hon Hai poured about NT$10 billion (US$355 million) into electric car development in 2020, and expects investment to rise in 2021, adding that investment in electric cars in 2022 is expected to grow 30 percent from a year earlier.

Meanwhile, Hon Hai Chief Technology Officer William Wei (魏國章) spoke at a forum organized by the Monte Jade Science & Technology Association of Taiwan and contract electronics maker Pegatron Corp., noting that to date, 1,065 firms from around the world have joined the MIH Open Platform promoted by Hon Hai.

Wei said 30 percent of the members of the open platform are multinational firms and almost 200 come from Internet and related industries so these members are expected to play a critical role in electric car development.

The MIH Open Platform was initiated by Yulon Group subsidiary Hua-Chuang Automobile Information Technical Center Co., and Hon Hai formed a joint venture with Hua-Chang in February 2020 called Foxtron Vehicle Technologies Co. to strengthen the platform, which provides solutions to other automakers.

Hon Hai has said it plans to build the platform into the “Android of the electric car industry” as part of its ongoing efforts to enter the global electric vehicle market.

Earlier this week, Autocrypt Co., a South Korea-based automotive cybersecurity solution provider, announced it was joining the platform, and its participation is especially timely because the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations, a working party of the United Nations, will require cybersecurity type approval in all new cars by July 2022.

Hon Hai has scheduled an investor conference for March 30 to detail its first quarter earnings and give guidance for the second quarter, with its electric car investment expected to be highlighted.

(By Chung Jung-feng and Frances Huang)