iPhone Assembler Foxconn to Build a ‘Breakthrough' Electric Vehicle for EV Startup Fisker Inc

author: Eric Walz   

The fully-electric Fisker Ocean SUV on display at CES in Jan 2020.

Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology Group (Foxconn) the contract manufacturer for computer giant Apple Inc. will build a new electric vehicle for California EV startup Fisker Inc. 

Fisker announced today it has entered into a MOU with Foxconn for a project to develop what the company calls a “breakthrough electric vehicle.” The proposed collaboration is codenamed ‘Project PEAR’ (Personal Electric Automotive Revolution) with projected annual volumes of more than 250,000 units. Production of the new EV is planned for Q4 2023.

Following the signing of the MOU, teams from Fisker and Foxconn will establish several work streams focused on design, technology, engineering, and manufacturing. Both companies expect to conclude these discussions and enter into a formal partnership agreement during Q2 2021. 

Fisker says that its collaboration with Foxconn is poised to revolutionize the traditional automotive business model by introducing Foxconn’s efficient Information and Communication Technology (ICT) capabilities in electric vehicle production at scale which can help automakers produce a new vehicle in as little as two years.

“The collaboration between our firms means that it will only take 24 months to produce the next Fisker vehicle – from research and development to production, reducing half of the traditional time required to bring a new vehicle to market,” said Young-way Liu.

Foxconn is best known as the contract manufacturer of the iPhone and other Apple products. The company has assembled tens of millions of iPhones and iPads since 2007. Foxconn also assembles popular electronics sold by Microsoft, Amazon and Sony. Foxconn is the world’s biggest contract manufacturer. 

But Foxconn said that it’s seeking to diversify its business going forward, as assembling Apple products accounts for nearly half its annual revenue. Foxconn’s strengths are its vast manufacturing experience and global supply chain.

Foxconn announced in October that it aims to provide components or services to around 10% of the world’s electric vehicles (EVs) between 2025 and 2027. At the time, Foxconn Chairman Liu Young-way said the company is in talks with multiple automakers for future cooperation to reach that goal, which currently represents around 3 million vehicles.

Foxconn is also planning to launch a solid-state battery for electric vehicles in 2024, which improves on current lithium-ion batteries that are usually found in EVs. Becoming an EV battery supplier to the auto industry could further help Foxconn to diversify its business.

“The Fisker and Foxconn partnership brings together two global leaders in innovation that will join forces to unlock the potential of the electric vehicle industry,” said Foxconn Technology Group Chairman, Young-way Liu. The key success elements of electric vehicle development include the electric motor, electric control module and battery. We have two major advantages in this regard, with an exceptional vertically integrated global supply chain and the best supply chain management team in our industry.”  

The deal with Fisker is Foxconn’s is at least the second planned collaboration with an EV startup that has been announced.

In January, Foxconn signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Chinese electric vehicle startup Byton to mass produce the startup’s first vehicle, the M-Byte SUV. Production of the M-Byte is expected to start in the first quarter of 2022, Bloomberg reported earlier this year.

California-based Fisker is among a new crop of electric vehicle startups, including Lucid Motors and Rivian that are aiming to capture some of the success of Tesla, which over the last decade has grown to become the world’s most valuable automaker. Fisker is billing itself as “the world’s first digital car company.” The company was founded in 2016.

Mr. Fisker is an automotive industry veteran and is best known for designing iconic luxury cars, including the BMW Z8 and Aston Martin DB9. 

The EV project with Foxconn will be the second vehicle for the Fisker brand following the launch of its first vehicle the Fisker Ocean SUV in Q4 2022.

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The electric Fisker Ocean SUV was unveiled to the public in Jan 2020 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. It’s being designed to be the world’s most sustainable vehicle, Mr. Fisker said. 

The Ocean will be built with the extensive use of environmentally friendly and recycled materials, including recycled fishing nets, which is reflected in the EV’s name. The Ocean is expected to enter production in Q4 2022 and the company plans to unveil a production prototype of the Ocean later this year.

Fisker said that interest in the fully-electric Ocean SUV is growing, with more than 12,000 paid reservations as of today. 

Fisker’s Ocean SUV is not being built by Foxconn however. In October 2020, Fisker inked a deal with Austrian contract manufacturer Magna Steyr to build it. Magna Steyr is best known for producing vehicles for Mercedes Benz and BMW.

Mr. Fisker has dropped some vague hints about its new electric vehicle, but he intends to keep its surprise until the last minute, which is a level of secrecy that Apple and Foxconn is known for. 

“Not unlike when Isaac Newton realized the powers of gravity, the inspiration for this project has come from some unconventional sources,” said Mr. Fisker. “The design sketch hints at the direction we are taking. However, with the level of innovation planned for this vehicle, I intend to keep the final design a surprise until the last possible moment!”

Fisker is a publicly traded company and launched its U.S. IPO in Oct. 2020. Fisker merged with investment management firm Apollo Global Management, Inc. which is affiliated with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Spartan Energy Acquisition Corp.

Fisker’s shares are listed on the NYSE under the symbol “FSR.” The company’s stock price jumped by nearly 23% on Wednesday to $19.99 on news of its planned collaboration with Foxconn.

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