Foxconn’s electric car ambitions bolstered by Stellantis deal

The 50/50 joint venture, known as “Mobile Drive”, brings together the power of Foxconn in mobile software and consumer electronics with Stellantis’ vehicle design and engineering expertise to create a smartphone-like user experience.

Mobile Drive will enable a “personalized and scalable cockpit”, with features such as biometric recognition, artificial intelligence, remote control and augmented reality, said Yves Bonnefont, software director of Stellantis, at a conference Press.

Stellantis was born from the merger of Fiat Chrysler and the French group PSA. Its brands include Peugeot, Dodge, Ram, Alfa Romeo, Jeep and Citroën.

While Foxconn will initially develop smart cockpit solutions for the Stellantis brands, the plan is to sell the technology to other automakers.

“The joint venture will operate as an automotive supplier, competitively bidding to provide software solutions and related hardware to Stellantis and other interested automakers,” the companies said in a statement Tuesday.

“This will change the way we design our cars,” added Carlos Tavares, CEO of Stellantis. “It will change the rate at which we design our cars and the frequency with which we improve our cars,” he said.

The deal comes after Foxconn and Fiat Chrysler last year confirmed a possible joint venture to produce electric vehicles in China. The partnership was delayed by the Fiat Chrysler-PSA group merger, and the companies did not say Tuesday whether they were considering an electric vehicle.
Foxconn, a Taiwan-based electronics manufacturer best known for its contract with Apple (AAPL), is on a big electric car offensive. The company is in talks with the California electric car company Fisker to develop an electric vehicle and announced in January an agreement with Geely (GELYF), the Chinese parent company of Volvo and Lotus, to develop and produce vehicles for other automakers.
The developments are further evidence of the wider disruption that traditional automakers face against electronics giants and tech companies as sales of electric vehicles accelerate rapidly. Apple, for example, would also try to break into the automotive industry.

“The vehicle of the future will increasingly be software-driven and software-defined,” Foxconn Chairman Liu Young-Way said on Tuesday.

Volkswagen (VLKAF) and Ford (F) are invest billions in electric vehicle manufacturing, widely regarded as the future of road transport, as a growing number of countries phase out diesel and gasoline cars.
Volkswagen, which could dethrone You’re here (TSLA) like the king of electric cars from next year, unveiled a massive expansion of battery production in March in order to secure supply and reduce production costs.

– Peter Valdes-Dapena contributed reporting.

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