When you think about it, there aren’t many similarities between a tractor and an iPhone. One is an enormous motorized vehicle that sometimes tows about 4,000lb and the other is a rectangle of glass you sometimes talk to people with. But those disparities haven’t stopped the company that assembles iPhones from agreeing to start building “autonomous” electric tractors.
According to Automotive News, Californian startup Monarch Tractor has signed a deal with Foxconn to build electric tractors at its factory at the former General Motors plant in Lordstown, Ohio.
Foxconn, the trading name for Hon Hai Technology Group, made its name assembling iPhones for Apple and Kindle devices for Amazon. But, in recent years, it has been looking to branch out into the assembly of much larger products.
As such, it bought the old General Motors plant from EV startup Lordstown Motors last year. The move followed announcements from the company that it might build its own factory in the U.S., before it changed its mind.
Now, Foxconn will use the Ohio factory to build next-generation agricultural equipment and battery packs for Monarch Tractor.
In a statement, Praveen Penmetsa, co-founder and CEO of Monarch Tractor, said: “Foxconn is an EMS [Electronics manufacturing services] leader whose manufacturing and solutions are world-renowned. We are proud to partner with Foxconn and work together to transform the future of farming.”
Under the agreement, Foxconn will commence full-scale production of Monarch Tractor’s MK-V Series early next year.
The MK-V tractor is a small electric agricultural vehicle with a peak power output of 70hp. The tractor can operate for 10 hours on a single charge, and it takes between four and five hours to top up its batteries after a day of use.
Assembling the MK-V at Foxconn’s Ohio plant will free up Monarch’s own facility in Livermore, California, where it says it plans to produce its Founder Series of agricultural equipment.