Electric cars are trickling into the auto industry at different rates globally. China is at the forefront in terms of EV adoption, but its influence could spread out to the rest of the world and change the landscape of the automotive industry as we know it. Where the United States and the European Union once led the way in shaping car design and production, China may take up the mantle soon. And even though this transition of automotive production power comes at the onset of the EV era, really, what’s spurring on this change is already in your pocket and on your desk: smartphones and computers.
Look, I know the whole “tech companies are pivoting to cars” bit is getting old, but I encourage you to read this excellent Wired article article about how China could soon become the automotive epicenter of the world, thanks to its tech industry.
Wired outlines how the companies that built your phone, your tablet, or your laptop are vying for the future of the car. I’m not talking about companies whose logos you’d recognize. Regardless of what comes to mind when you visualize the modern computer, or whether it’s made by Apple, Google, Samsung or Sony, we’re not talking about brand-name giants. The tech companies truly leading the way into EVs are far from household names.
I’m referring, specifically, to Foxconn: the company behind the company that brought you the iPhone. Apple gets much of the attention, because, well, it’s Apple — formerly the world’s most valuable company. But Apple wouldn’t be where it is without Foxconn, one of its major suppliers. It’s Foxconn that makes most of the guts inside those iPhones and MacBooks.
That’s precisely why it says what it says on every Apple box: “Designed by Apple in California/Assembled in China.” The second half of that statement could more accurately read, “Assembled by Foxconn in China.” Obviously, we can’t really expect a brand-name company to put its industry supplier’s name front and center, but the distinction is important to understand.
And the relationship between Apple and Foxconn could get interesting if (or when) Foxconn’s automaking ambitions pan out. It’s unclear whether Apple and Foxconn will become bitter rivals or closer partners in the jump to cars. Naturally, Apple would need a company to manufacture its car. Who’s that going to be, if not Foxconn?
Wired makes a compelling case for the supplier giant making its own “Foxconn-mobile” that would compete with the long-rumored Apple Car. That EV could be a hatchback, sedan or even a bus. Foxconn has already teamed up with Yulon to make EVs under the new Foxtron brand. But Foxconn is also making deals with EV makers in the U.S., like Lordstown and Fisker.
Whether Foxconn can get EVs to market under its (pretty rad) brand name Foxtron or through a partnership, the company could be a powerhouse of automotive production. And if Foxconn is any indication, other foreign companies could follow, shifting the car world Eastward. Where does that leave Apple or Google? I’m eager to see what becomes of tech companies that plan on making cars when their OEMs are busy making their own gadgets for once.