iPhone maker Foxconn may conquer car cockpits with Stellantis

by BLOOMBERG

Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. signed an agreement to partner with Jeep maker Stellantis NV, one of the world’s biggest automakers, on a joint venture to jointly develop digital car cockpits.

The main assembler of Apple Inc.’s iPhones and the carmaker formed from the merger of Fiat Chrysler and PSA Group said in a statement Tuesday they reached a non-binding deal to form Mobile Drive, a joint venture that could supply both Stellantis and other auto manufacturers.

The tie-up between the flagship unit of Foxconn Technology Group and the carmaking giant has the potential to become one of the more significant alliances in the rapidly converging worlds of tech and autos. Hon Hai also has ambitions to supply underpinnings for electric vehicles and has signed deals with Chinese startup Byton Ltd. and U.S.-based Fisker Inc.

Whereas Byton are Fisker are just trying to get off the ground, Stellantis sold roughly 6 million vehicles last year. That amount of scale presents an opportunity for Foxconn to diversify a business dependent on Apple for much of its revenue.

Most engineers in the joint venture will be based in Taipei, while management will be in Europe, said Calvin Chih, the chief executive officer of Foxconn’s Hong Kong-listed unit FIH Mobile. The companies have not set a goal for the market share the new entity wants to achieve.

Chief Executive Officer Carlos Tavares expressed openness to having Stellantis partner with tech giants — including with Apple, which has been exploring an automotive foray for several years — during a post-merger press conference in January.

“Stellantis is open for business always as long as it creates win-win situations and as long as it doesn’t create any technology dependence that would penalize the future of the company,” Tavares said.