Foxconn, Indiev Executives Show Off Prototype

LORDSTOWN, Ohio – The day is approaching that drivers and passengers measure vehicles less on horsepower or speed and more on processing power muscle and connectivity, officials from Hon Hai Technology Group and Indiev Inc. said Tuesday.

Representatives of Hon Hai – better known as Foxconn – and Indiev, joined by workers at the Lordstown Foxconn plant and Mahoning Valley business leaders, celebrated the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two entities.

“Here we are again, another success story,” said Rick Rajaie, Foxconn vice president, product and business development.

Under the MOU, which was signed last month, Foxconn will build pre-production prototypes of California-based Indiev’s flagship Indi One at the Lordstown plant. The electric vehicle will feature a vehicle-integrated computer, or VIC. EV batteries to be used in the prototypes and standalone batteries used for testing purposes also will be built at the plant, Rajaie said.

The two companies will continue discussions toward reaching an agreement for Foxconn to mass produce the Indi, according to the MOU.

“Negotiations on building out that partnership further are ongoing,” said Indiev spokesman Bobby Bushell. Specifics such as the number of prototypes that FoxConn will manufacture and production timelines will be disclosed later, once additional contracts are signed, he said.

The standard version of the all-wheel drive vehicle would be priced at $45,000 and the “fully kitted out” model would cost $69,000, before any government incentives, Bushell said. The higher-priced model would have a range of “a touch over 300 miles,” he said.

According to one of several videos showed during the program, the Indi One “combines the best of electric vehicle and consumer technology,” requiring a manufacturer with “the ability to build cars at scale with an eye for quality and cost efficiency,” and at the same time possessing “an eye on the future,” both of which Foxconn offer.

“The base-level engineering behind an electric vehicle is so impressive that in 10 years’ time, zero to 60 time isn’t going to be a meaningful comparison between vehicles because these motors in this car have so much torque, so much power,” Bushell said. “Everyone’s car is going to be incredibly fast at the end of the day. So people are going to start demanding more out of what it’s like to be inside of the vehicle,” especially with the move toward working from home , he continued.

Further, as self-driving technology develops, “It’s going to become more and more about what you can do inside of that vehicle,” than how fast a vehicle can go from zero to 60 miles per hour. “A lot of times you’re stuck in traffic, you’re never hitting that top speed.”

The Indi one is the third vehicle that Foxconn has reached either prototype mass production agreements to make, Rajaie said. He credited the administrations of President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump for supporting an environment in which other companies are approaching Foxconn to partner with them on EVs.

“We are humbled and honored to be approached by small and big players in the industry,” he said. “So for those of you who are getting tired of this, sorry, guys.”

Jack Cheng, CEO of Foxconn MIH, said Foxconn’s chairman, who he met with in Germany, pledged “100%.” support for spending in mobility.

“Indiev looks forward to working with Foxconn to make this partnership as fruitful as possible and create long-term success for both Indiev and Foxconn, as well as the residents of the whole Valley and Ohio as a whole,” said Terrence McKelvey, a spokesman for Indiev through its Innovators program.

“It’s all about connectivity, smart communications, cloud-based services, software driven applications [and] user interface,” Rajaie said. In 2030, he predicted, there will be a “huge penetration” of autonomous electric vehicles in the United States and globally, and successful companies in the automobile industry will be the ones that understand the voice of the next generation of customer.

On hand at the event were two Indi One prototypes that were manufactured at the five-year-old company’s offices in Los Angeles before the agreement with Foxconn was in place.

“The most unique part of this vehicle is that vehicle-integrated computer, which is a super-powerful desktop PC that we’ve integrated into the car itself, which provides you a more robust, customizable and future-forward infotainment experience than any other car out there,” Bushell said.

“Its revolutionary integrated computer makes an unprecedented amount of processing power directly accessible to passengers, expanding the limits of what’s possible for ongoing content creation, bringing control and connectivity to the forefront of the in-vehicle experience,” McKelvey said.

Additionally, there is an area in the back of the vehicle where owners can print 3D models that can be used to customize the space, McKelvey said. The vehicle also is equipped with an “advanced camera and sensor system” that provides drivers “with everything from a 360-degree view and the ability to record internally and externally at any given moment, making it possible to do things such as live streaming, creating content, and even uploading to social media using the car’s internal technology,” he remarked.

Future EVs must provide passengers with more options for in-vehicle entertainment, creativity and work, but computing power in personal vehicles has lagged, according to another video. The vehicle-integrated computer include in the Indi One provides processing power and connectivity and an “array of digital hardware” to help bridge the technology gap between what drivers and passengers have in their homes and what was available in vehicles.

On the dashboard are a pair of monitor screens, one at the center and another on the passenger side. The center screen is keyed to not display entertainment content while driving while that content is available on the screen to the right of the driver, Bushell said.

“Once you park the car, you’re able to switch that center screen over to give the driver access to all the fun stuff as well,” he continued. The vehicle also offers a virtual reality experience and the potential for car-to-car gaming.

“Indeiv is dedicated to creating a space that can enhance a user’s lifestyle through the Indie one’s digital tools,” said Taylor Cortis, another Indiev Innovator spokeswoman.

The vehicle offers “a digital toolbox and mobile workspace that adapts to enhance its users’ lifestyles,” Cortis said. The Los Angeles-based content creator, streamer, gamer and disc jockey said the EV would provide a “mobile workstation” for her.

“By maintaining a human-centric focus and tech-forward approach, Indiev hopes to be a catalyst for innovation,” Cortis said. “The Indi One was not only meant to transform the in-car experience for users, but also in hopes to inspire a shift in mindset regarding the approach that the auto industry is taking within personal transportation.”

Other capabilities include live streaming and editing content in the vehicle.

“As a streamer, begin able to go on road trips and stream directly to Twitch when I’m in a vehicle, that’s something no one else can do,” Cortis said, “It allows me to create something different and unique that I would never be able to create for myself on a phone.”

Next steps for Foxconn include working with Indiev’s design team and supply base to deliver the prototypes, Rajaie said. “We are going to continue the negotiations for context manufacturing agreements in an attempt to industrialize the vehicle her in Foxconn Ohio,” he added.

Discussions also are continuing with other industry partners “to bring more and more prosperity and revenue to the area,” he said.

Among the officials on hand for Tuesday’s event was Lordstown Village Mayor Arno Hill.

“These are great days,” Hill remarked. “Every company which has decided to come to Lordstown, they’ve all been a great fit. They’ve been a great neighbor.”

Rick Stockburger, CEO of Brite Energy Innovators, a nonprofit in downtown Warren that helps develop early-stage renewable energy technology companies, said he is pleased that Foxconn would be doing additional battery production as part of the MOU, increasing EV supply chain opportunities.

“Having Ultium Cells as well as Foxconn producing electric vehicle batteries gives us a great opportunity to have cathodes, anodes and all that manufacturing creation here,” he said.

Additionally, Stockburger is interested in the compute-based capabilities of the vehicle. His wife, who runs a drone company, would be able to shoot content for a client, edit it on site and present the product to the customer in 15 to 30 minutes would be “a very cool opportunity for her type of business,” he said.

He acknowledged the gaming aspect elicited some eye rolling from “the older generation” present.

“The fact of the matter is the gaming industry is larger than the professional sports industry. People are making more money in that industry than anywhere else,” Stockburger said. “It’s just a cool item.”

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.