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Foxconn aims to dominate electric vehicle market

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

The world’s largest contract manufacturer is offering an open platform for electric vehicles that will include solid state batteries.

Foxconn Technology, previously called Hai Hon Precision Industries, makes the Apple iPhone and many other phone brands and aims to dominate the manufacture of electric vehicles in the same way. It has teamed up with a car maker, Yulon Motors in a technology joint venture, battery makers CATL and SES and component maker Yageo on the key technologies for an open platform. It plans to be the first to launch commercial solid state EV batteries in 2024.

“We believe that after 2025 whoever masters solid state batteries will dominate the industry,” said  Jerry Hsiao, chief product officer for Hai Hon. “Solid state batteries will be one of the next technological revolutions for electric vehicles and Hon Hai will secure its foothold in this field,” he said.

The platform, launched at the Hon Hai Technology Day this week, combines key components, software and hardware in an open platform called MIH. The modular skateboard platform integrates all the components of an electric autonomous vehicle, optimised for low cost manufacturing. Different structures can be added to the platform to create sedans, SUVs and even commercial vehicles using different battery packs adn motor modules.

Open software is a key trend for the company. It says it has learnt from Apple opening up the App store, and Android opening up the whole hardware and software infrastructure of mobile phone.

“The closed system adopted by Tesla and other manufacturers requires a long development cycle and does not open to other people in the development cycle, and the development cost remains high,” said William Wei, CTO of Foxconn. “If Tesla is the iPhone of the EV, who will be the next Android of EV? We believe this is our mission,” he said.  

The development builds on a deal with Chinese car maker Yulon Motor  and a more recent deal with component supplier Yageo, but it is the batteries that are a key element.

“We have become a leader in key EV technologies,” said Hsiao, who joined from leading HMD Global as the maker of Nokia phones.

“Hai Hon has developed six ‘black box’ technologies for electric vehicles,” he said. These cover battery charging low temp optimisation, low swelling and high energy density battery technology, a cloud-based battery management system and solid state batteriesd.

“We are working with battery manufacturers CATL and SES in Silicon valley and we expect to launch the first commercial solid state battery in 2024 ahead of other players,” said Hsiao. “Hai Hon has developed key materials for solid state batteries with LMNO positive electrodes and a silicon carbon anode as well as electrolytes and additives that reduce the weight by 50 percent and increase the capacity by 10 percent.”

The $500m joint venture with Yulon Motor in February deal was followed by a strategic deal with the Yageo group in September. Yageo has been acquiring power component companies, the latest being KEMET. Hon Hai and Yageo’s strategic partnership will differ from traditional supply chain deals at the two will share R&D and also cooperate with global end customers.

After acquiring KEMET and Pulse, Yageo Group will not only focus on high-end 5G, automotive, industrial, aerospace, and medical segments, but also provide the group’s expertise and one-stop shopping platform in special semiconductor packaging and testing from Tong Hsing, automotive inductors and magnetic materials from Chilisin, and aluminium electrolytic capacitors from Kaimei. Yageo Group certainly will become the best strategic partner for Hon Hai Group in the development of electric vehicles.

“Yageo is an industry leader in many technological fields. The solid cooperation with Hon Hai will be able to demonstrate the wisdom and advantages of Taiwan’s manufacturing industry. Through this strategic alliance, we will focus more on the development of new customers and products with joint resources to meet global customers’ needs in the supply chain support and functional design development and come up with more value-added solutions,” said Young Liu, Chairman of Hon Hai.

www.foxconn.com

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