Foxconn in Discussions with Other EV Providers
LORDSTOWN, Ohio – Executives from Foxconn say the Taiwanese tech company is in discussions with other electric-vehicle manufacturers that could produce EVs from the newly acquired Lordstown complex.
“I cannot say their name,” Jerry Hsaio, chief product officer at Foxconn Technology Group, told reporters during a press event at the plant Wednesday. “We are working with a new customer,” he said, but declined to provide any additional details.
Foxconn hosted a delegation composed of 50 local, state and international business leaders and public officials Wednesday afternoon at the Lordstown plant. The objective was to demonstrate how Foxconn is using its manufacturing capabilities to convert the 6.2 million-square-foot-factory into a hub for EV production.
“We never want to be king but we are the kingmaker,” Hsaio said. “We are looking for a new product to dominate the EV segment not only in the U.S., but the global market.”
In May, Foxconn bought the plant from Lordstown Motors Corp. in a deal worth $230 million. In 2019, Lordstown Motors acquired the plant from General Motors Co., who built vehicles there for more than 50 years.
The parties also completed a manufacturing agreement in which Foxconn would produce Lordstown’s initial product, the all-electric Endurance pickup. The companies also signed a joint venture – MIH EV Design LLC — that calls for Foxconn to produce future Lordstown Motors vehicles on Foxconn’s mobility-in-harmony, or MIH, platform.
Under the agreement, Foxconn owns 55% of the joint venture and Lordstown Motors 45%.
Foxconn is also working with California-based Fisker Inc., which plans to begin producing the all-electric Fisker Pear at the plant sometime in 2024.
Hsaio said Fisker and Foxconn are working closely together on vehicle design and supply networks. The two companies are engaged in early stages of revamping production lines at the plant.
“We are upgrading and designing a production line for them,” Hsaio said. “We’ll get ourselves ready by the first quarter of next year.”
That way, Fisker could begin manufacturing prototypes and start commercial production in 2024, he said.
Fisker CEO Henrik Fisker has said his company could potentially build 250,000 vehicles a year out of the Lordstown plant.
State Sen. Michael Rulli, R-Salem, was among the local public officials on the tour. “There are three or four projects besides Fisker that we don’t know about yet [that are being considered for the plant],” he said. Should these plans come to fruition, “It’s going to be incredible,” he said.
Foxconn is putting in place a novel business model in which a single plant could be used to manufacture more than one product from various original-equipment manufacturers.
Foxconn would act as the single contract manufacturer for these products and create a common platform from which to build new EVs. This, executives said, helps to create efficiencies in logistics, supply-chain issues, design and production.
One reason behind hosting the delegation Wednesday was to introduce potential investors to Foxconn and its local partners, Hsaio said. These investors include suppliers of electronics components that could establish business relationships with regional or local companies to enable a domestic supply chain.
The delegation comprised representatives from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, JobsOhio, the American Institute in Taiwan, local and state officials, and at least one member of the Foxconn Board of Directors.
Johnson Chiang, director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Chicago, said the visit provided an opportunity to get an up-close look at the partnership between Foxconn and Lordstown Motors. “I think it’s a very significant step and we want to see a success,” he said.
Chiang said that the relationship between Lordstown and Foxconn helps Taiwan to establish a footing in the Ohio auto industry and could entice other Taiwanese companies to follow.
“I think innovation is critical,” he said. “I think we have a pretty good team here — from business, from government and working together.” He also praised the talent pool in northeastern Ohio and at Lordstown Motors.
Indeed, Hsaio said one of the main factors is the Foxconn decision to acquire Lordstown Motors’ factory is the abundance of experienced workers and engineers.
“The key reason we acquired this asset is because they have 400 talented and experienced workers,” he said of Lordstown Motors. “We realize the supply chain and people in Ohio are very good.”
Meanwhile, Lordstown Motors is ramping up toward commercial production of the Endurance, expected to begin next quarter and commercial sales to start in the fourth quarter, said Edward Hightower, president of Lordstown Motors and CEO of MIH EV Design LLC.
“It’s an exciting time for us,” he said. “We’re nearing the launch of the Endurance. We can’t wait for customers to get in it.”
Hightower said the company continues to test its preproduction vehicles in preparation for the Endurance launch. “We drive the latest built vehicles every week,” he said. These tests are part of a larger program to train employees, ensure the supply chain is ready, and ensure the latest software is integrated into the system.
“A vehicle launch is very complex,” he said. “When you look at all the systems that have to work together in the vehicle, all of them have to be tested and validated. That’s why it takes time and diligence.”
Hightower said that the company continues to pursue its efforts to raise additional capital to bring the Endurance to market. Now that the Foxconn deal has closed, it makes Lordstown a more attractive investment opportunity and raises its profile, he said.
“The first batch we’re building is 500,” he said. “Then we’re going to work overtime to continuously improve the product, reduce the manufacturing costs and at the same time work on our future portfolio of vehicles with the MIH platform.”
Hightower said that the parties have already begun early development work on new Lordstown Motors vehicles based on Foxconn’s MIH platform.
Working on an open MIH platform allows companies such as Lordstown to benefit from sharing components such as battery packs, motors, power electronics, and body structure and front and rear suspension, Hightower said.
The same would go for vehicle software and technology.
“You can develop other vehicles or variants of that platform much faster and at a lower cost,” Hightower said. “That’s going to be an advantage for Foxconn in this plant and for us as a smaller commercially focused O.E.M.”
Pictured above: Group photo of those present for press event Wednesday.
Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.