iPhone-maker Foxconn has agreed to build electric vehicles for Fisker Inc., the eponymous EV startup of automotive designer Henrik Fisker. In a memorandum of understanding announced Wednesday, the two companies say Foxconn will build Fisker Inc.’s second vehicle, which has yet to be announced and is due out in late 2023.
Fisker told The Wall Street Journal that the companies are considering building the car in the US and that there’s a “very good chance” it may happen at Foxconn’s factory in Wisconsin.
That factory, which former president Donald Trump called the “eighth wonder of the world” at the 2018 groundbreaking event, was originally supposed to be used to build LCD panels. Foxconn had promised a $10 billion investment that would result in a 20 million-square-foot facility and 13,000 jobs. But the company has invested a mere 3 percent of that total to date, and the biggest structure it has built on the site is a 1 million-square-foot building that was recently reclassified in official documents as a storage facility.
The companies claim they could eventually make 250,000 vehicles or more annually, half of Tesla’s current output. A more formal partnership is expected to be signed later this year.
Fisker Inc. is not due to start production on its first vehicle, the Ocean SUV, until the end of 2022. It has 12,000 reservations for the Ocean so far. That car will be built by automotive supplier Magna, which has its own electric vehicle program and assembles the I-Pace electric SUV for Jaguar Land Rover. Fisker Inc. had originally planned to partner up with Volkswagen to build the Ocean SUV and subsequent vehicles — the prototype of the Ocean was built on VW’s electric vehicle platform by a design subsidiary of the German automaker — but those negotiations ultimately stalled.
Fisker joins a growing list of companies that Foxconn is working with on electric vehicles following the Taiwanese conglomerate’s announcement last year that it was entering the industry. Already this year, Foxconn announced it will build cars with Geely, China’s largest private automaker, as well as with floundering Chinese startup Byton. Geely has said that it may leverage its partnership with Foxconn to help build cars for rebounding EV startup Faraday Future.
Foxconn also announced in January 2020 that it plans to make electric vehicles with Fiat Chrysler, which has since merged with France’s PSA Group to become a new automaker called Stellantis. The status of that joint venture is unclear; Foxconn has not responded to multiple requests for comment on the project over the last year, and a spokesperson for Fiat Chrysler repeatedly declined to comment.
Interest in electric vehicles has skyrocketed in the last year in the wake of Tesla’s rising valuation. A number of startups, Fisker Inc. among them, have gone public and collectively raised billions of dollars. The boom has attracted big companies from other industries, too, like Foxconn. Chinese search giant Baidu announced it will work with Geely to make EVs. Alibaba formed a joint venture with SAIC, which is China’s largest carmaker, to develop electric vehicles. Ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing is working with major Chinese automaker BYD to make EVs. Phonemaker Xiaomi is also reportedly getting into electric vehicles.
Perhaps most famously, Apple is exploring an entry into EVs and has been in talks with automakers around the globe in hopes of finding the right manufacturing partner.