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Do BMW, Mercedes and VW need Foxconn in the age of electrification?

by Asif Anwar | Mar 18, 2021

The loss of business during the COVID-19 pandemic and the high cost associated with developing new platforms to meet the trends towards CASE (Connected, Autonomous, Shared and Electric) could be the spur needed for adoption of contract manufacturing and third-party platforms by both traditional OEMs including BMW, Mercedes and VW as well as emerging players.

The latest Strategy Analytics report “Foxconn, Magna and REE Banking on Electrification to Spur Demand for Automotive Contract Manufacturing,” from the Powertrain, Body, Safety & Chassis Service (PBCS) service, explores both the advantages well as the pitfalls of this trend towards contract manufacturing. The report also analyses how the traditional automotive OEM landscape is adapting to meet the future needs of the market through mergers and co-opetition that will challenge this move towards contract manufacturing.

Foxconn, Magna and REE Automotive have launched platforms for electric vehicles, offering economies of scale to lower duplicated cost for established OEMs as well as support EV start-ups that lack the capital to raise production capacity themselves.

Foxconn is well known for the contract manufacture of the Apple iPhone, which is supported by a vertically integrated supply chain.  In November 2020, it formed the Foxtron subsidiary to enter the electric vehicle sector and has developed the MIH EV Open Platform, forming partnerships with over 200 automotive supplier companies to develop MIH further.

Foxconn MHI Platform

Source: Foxconn

Israeli start-up REE Automotive has partnered with Mahindra in its development of a modular, scalable platform.  Magna International recently launched the EtelligentReach system which is designed to compete against OEM-developed plug-in hybrid powertrains and offers a reduction in emissions by 38%. Magna International’s contract manufacturing subsidiary, Magna Steyr, has assembled the Sony Vision-S concept car and has also been selected to produce the Fisker Ocean electric vehicles.

With Foxconn already partnering with FCA and Fisker, and REE and Magna also offering routes to a common platform, the automotive industry is clearly opening up to contract manufacturing as a route to electrification. Technology companies such as Apple, Huawei, Sony and ZTE are also expanding into automotive providing another avenue for contract manufacturers.

However, it will take time for these entrants to gain automotive experience and the trust of OEMs.  Customers will need assurances that they can retain control over the platforms’ supply, design customization and quality. It should also be noted that the established OEMs have been strategically planning for CASE for several years now.

The German car industry for example is investing heavily in electrification and it is doubtful that contract manufacturing can duplicate their scale and expertise to meet the projected demand for xEVs in the next five to ten years. Contract manufacturers will also be competing against available platforms from major auto groups, such as Volkswagen with its MEB, PPE and forthcoming SSP platforms and Mercedes with its EVA and MMA platforms. Furthermore, the current problems in the supply chain only serve to highlight the importance of establishing and retaining local centers of excellence to guarantee surety of supply with scalable platforms that can support the full suite of an OEM portfolio.

Thanks for reading and let me know what you think.

For more information on Strategy Analytics’ extensive coverage of the automotive industry, take a look at the PBCS (Powertrain, Body, Chassis & Safety), AVS (Autonomous Vehicles Service), AIT (Automotive Infotainment and Telematics) and ACM (Automotive Connected Mobility) services.

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