Foxconn continues electric vehicle push with electric tractor contract in Lordstown

Electronics maker Foxconn has signed a contract to build self-driving electric tractors for a California startup.

Foxconn, which assembles iPhones, iPads and Kindles, will build the vehicle for Monarch Tractor of Livermore, Calif., the companies announced Tuesday.

Monarch has raised $81 million in funding. Its investors include VST Tillers, CNH Industrial, Musashi Seimitsu Industry, Astanor Ventures, At One Ventures, Trimble Ventures and MUUS.

Foxconn will build the tractor at the former General Motors factory in Lordstown, Ohio. It acquired the plant in May for $230 million from struggling electric pickup truck startup Lordstown Motors. Monarch expects production to begin in the first quarter of 2023.

“Creating the most advanced tractor in the industry requires a manufacturing partner with the experience to scale quickly and execute with precision,” Monarch Tractor CEO Praveen Penmetsa said in a press release.

The partnership continues a trend for Hon Hai Technology Group, which does business as Foxconn, as it dives into the electric vehicle market.

He sees the deal as a step toward contract manufacturing of advanced technologies and electric vehicles, a role he fulfills for consumer electronics.

“This partnership reflects Foxconn’s growing center of gravity for the production of autonomous electric vehicles and the potential that can emerge from forward-thinking collaborations,” said Young Liu, Chairman of Hon Hai Technology Group.

Foxconn’s close ties to Apple could play into its interest in assembling electric vehicles. Apple has been working on a secret electric and autonomous vehicle project, known as Project Titan, since 2014 and has ramped up its development in recent years.

Apple has recruited automotive executives, hiring Ford Motor Co.’s Desi Ujkashevic in May. Previous hires have included BMW’s Ulrich Kranz and Tesla’s Canoo and Stuart Bowers.

The Foxconn contract is one of many recent moves for Monarch. In July, the company opened its first office in India and partnered with Indian artificial intelligence startup Einsite in a stage play to leverage the region’s agricultural sector.

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