Foxconn, the world’s largest contract electronics maker, has signed a memorandum of understanding to establish an electric vehicle-making platform in Thailand, the latest in a string of deals by the Taiwanese company in the high-tech automobiles space.
The collaboration with PTT, a state-owned conglomerate in Thailand, is to create an “open platform” for producing EVs and key components, Foxconn said in an e-mailed statement. The mix of hardware and software services will help automakers that aim to accelerate production and sales of EVs in Southeast Asia, the statement adds.
Thailand has for decades been Southeast Asia’s largest auto production hub. Global auto makers such as BMW, Hyundai and Toyota make cars in the country for export.
“A key goal for the Thai government is to make Thailand a leading EV manufacturing hub for both the domestic and export markets,” says Rajiv Biswas, executive director and Asia-Pacific chief economist at IHS Markit. “The Thai government views this as critical to maintain Thailand’s competitiveness as a leading Asian auto production hub.”
PTT, which is best known for its energy businesses, will contribute technology and its network of partners, subsidiaries and existing ventures to the Foxconn venture, the statement says. It says Foxconn will pitch in “smart manufacturing” and its experience in quickly getting products to market.
Foxconn’s plan with PTT involves “cooperation” with the Thai government, according to a joint statement by the two companies. Foxconn, which assembles Apple’s iPhones, has existing manufacturing capacity, a grasp of the supply chain and tools for automotive research, analysts say.
“I don’t know if they’ll succeed, but electrified vehicles are an important industry,” says Darson Chiu, deputy director of the Macroeconomic Forecasting Center at the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research in Taipei. He notes a priority in Washington to put more of these vehicles on the road. “The business opportunities from these vehicles are strong.”
Foxconn, which was founded and led by Taiwanese billionaire Terry Gou, has been accelerating its push into the increasingly popular high-tech automobiles sector as the industry shifts towards electric and self-driving vehicles.
Last month, the Taiwanese electronics giant announced plans to team up with Stellantis, the company formed in January from the merger of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and PSA Group, on in-car software. In February, Foxconn signed a memorandum of understanding with Los Angeles-based electric vehicle startup Fisker Inc. to develop and sell a new series of electric vehicles. Foxconn also has agreements with China’s Geely and Byton.