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Technology

Apple supplier Foxconn's EV platform to make debut this year

Chairman says first models based on MIH chassis will be unveiled in Q4

NEW TAIPEI CITY, Taiwan -- Key iPhone assembler Foxconn says the first electric vehicles built using the company's open software and hardware platform will be released by the end of this year.

"This year will mark a significant year for Foxconn's EV efforts. There will be two to three EV models using our MIH platform's designs in the fourth quarter of this year," Foxconn Chairman Young Liu told reporters at the company's headquarters in New Taipei City on Saturday.

Foxconn is betting on its open platform, dubbed MIH, to drive growth in its electric vehicle business as the company seeks new revenue sources to counter the slowing smartphone industry. The customizable platform -- which includes a chassis, electronic architecture and support for autonomous driving -- is designed to shorten the amount of time and resources automakers need to turn out new electric cars. Foxconn has been inviting suppliers across a range of industries to join its MIH-based alliance, which it established last October. So far, the alliance has attracted more than 700 companies from around the world, including Qualcomm, MediaTek, Arm, AWS and STMicroelectronics, according to Foxconn.

Foxconn will host the first MIH alliance conference next month. Members will discuss plans for the group, Liu said.

He said the first three EV models based on the MIH platform will include an electric bus and two passenger vehicles for the Taiwanese and Chinese markets.

Meanwhile, Foxconn's joint venture with Zhejiang Geely Holding Group will work with Geely and Chinese EV startup Faraday Future on possible plans for EV development, he added.

"People's interests and dedication to the EV industry is rising," Liu said. "I think the overall EV industry will take off in 2024, a year earlier than my previous estimate, as many players will launch their electric vehicles that year." Foxconn's goal of having 10% of global EVs using its MIH platform's designs by 2025 remains unchanged, Liu added.

The Apple supplier's automotive business, which currently focuses mainly on components, contributed around 9.5 billion New Taiwan dollars ($340 million) in sales in 2019, which is a small slice of Foxconn's annual total of more than NT$5 trillion in 2019 and 2020. Liu said the EV-related business is expected to start making a meaningful revenue contribution to the company from 2023.

Liu, who became Foxconn's chairman in June 2019, has been helping the contract electronics manufacturing giant to identify new long-term growth drivers. Electrics vehicles, semiconductors, servers and key components are among the areas Foxconn is prioritizing for investment.

Foxconn has been aggressively expanding in the EV industry over the past year. It has formed a partnership with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to develop electric vehicles for the Chinese market, a joint venture with Yulon Group, Taiwan's second-biggest automaker after Hotai Motor, to develop electric cars, and another joint venture with Geely, China's largest privately owned auto group.

The iPhone assembler earlier this year also forged ties with the embattled Chinese startup Byton. The Taiwanese company will send people to Byton's factory, offering supply chain management and operational support to the startup to help it get its production plans back on track after financial woes forced Byton to halt operations in July last year.

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