Foxconn is famous for being a an Apple supplier, and it looks like the firm’s contract manufacturer model will be used in its electric vehicle (EV) JV with Thai state-owned energy group PTT. Foxconn-PTT is in talks to build EVs for Chinese automakers as it aims to start production in Thailand in 2024.
This was revealed by Ekachai Yimsakul, MD of Arun Plus, PTT’s electric vehicle subsidiary, in an interview with Nikkei. He said that the JV, called Horizon Plus, is seeking for its first outsourcing deal with Chinese startup Hozon New Energy Automobile, which PTT signed a memorandum of understanding with in November.
PTT and Taiwan-based Foxconn – which official name is Hon Hai Precision Industry – plan to invest US$1-2 billion in an EV factory in eastern Thailand. Construction is set to start in the middle of this year. Horizon Plus plans to build finished cars for other manufacturers, using a platform and software developed by Foxconn.
Ekachai said that working with automakers that already have a track record of sales can help PTT and Foxconn break into the industry, and also give outsourcers a path into the Thai market. Shared production facilities can also save car companies time and money on manufacturing.
According to the report, Hozon Auto sold about 70,000 EVs last year, ranking in 18th worldwide in the segment. As the Zhejiang-based automaker looks beyond its domestic market, it is considering making right-hand-drive cars in Thailand, with an eye towards exporting to fellow RHD ASEAN countries Indonesia and Malaysia.
“We do have plans (with companies including PTT) and are proceeding with cooperation toward implementing them. We will make an announcement when there are concrete developments,” a Hozon rep told Nikkei.
As for PTT, the report says that EVs are central to its long-term strategy as Thailand pursues decarbonisation and the group’s gas fields dry up. The kingdom wants EVs to make up 30% of auto production in the country by 2030. Japanese carmakers, which have long monopolised the Thai market, have been slow to jump on the EV train, leaving a void for the country’s largest state-owned conglomerate to lead the charge.
PTT is already involved in EV batteries and charging infrastructure. Ekachai says that it is encouraging local auto parts vendors to join the electric shift. “The idea is to build a comprehensive ecosystem,” he said.
JV partner Foxconn is planning to enter the EV market itself too, but that will take some time. The electronics company unveiled the Model C crossover, Model E luxury sedan and Model T bus prototypes late last year and has an array of partnership deals with carmakers. Stellantis, Geely and Fisker are among them. Foxconn has also dipped its toes in Indonesia and Malaysia; the latter is via a stake in tech firm DNeX.
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