iPhone assembler Foxconn has revealed three prototype electric vehicles as part of its effort to become a major player in the automotive industry. The Taiwanese conglomerate showed off an SUV it calls the Model C, a sedan it calls the Model E, and a bus dubbed the Model T, all under a new “Foxtron” branding.
While Ford may take issue with the naming convention, it doesn’t seem that Foxconn plans to make these specific vehicles itself. Rather, it wants them to be seen as reference designs, examples of the types of vehicles that can be built on the EV platform it’s been developing, and advertisements for the automotive components and software it plans to sell. In fact, Foxconn didn’t even build the prototypes — the were made by Taiwanese automaker Yulun Motor, which Foxconn announced as the first customer for its platform.
“Our biggest challenge is we don’t know how to make cars,” Foxconn chairman Young Liu said at the event held Monday.
Still, Foxconn is making big claims about the capabilities of its platform. The company says the Model E can travel 750 kilometers (about 466 miles) on a single charge, and hit 100 kilometers an hour in under 3 seconds. The Model C tops out at 700km (435 miles) and is about a second slower to 100km. Foxconn says the bus has already gone through hundreds of thousands of kilometers’ worth of testing.
Foxconn has spent more than a year talking about the great ambitions it has to become a player in the automotive world, part of a bid to diversify away from phones, laptops, and other consumer electronics. Liu has said he wants to have Foxconn’s tech inside five percent of all electric vehicles made by 2025. It’s entering an ever-crowding field, though, as traditional top-tier suppliers like Magna are already building electric vehicles for other automakers.
Alongside its own efforts, Foxconn has also struck up deals with (or made investments in) an array of other automakers, supply chain companies, and electric vehicle startups. Most recently, Foxconn announced a plan to buy a former General Motors factory from struggling EV startup Lordstown Motors for $230 million. Foxconn has said it will mass produce Lordstown Motors’ electric pickup truck and also use some of the factory space to build other EVs.
Foxconn has strategic deals with China’s largest private automaker, Geely, as well as Fisker Inc., another EV startup. Some of its bets have already fizzled out, though — Foxconn recently stopped working with Byton, after throwing the troubled Chinese EV startup what appeared to be a lifeline in early 2021.
Foxconn is one of the biggest tech companies in the world, but it has become infamous for failing to execute on some big international expansions. What was supposed to be a massive, multibillion-dollar LCD factory in Wisconsin, for instance, is still mostly just empty buildings.