Fiat Chrysler and Foxconn plan push into Chinese e-car market - GulfToday

Fiat Chrysler and Foxconn plan push into Chinese e-car market


Employees at a Foxconn facility in Shenzhen, China. Associated Press

Italian-American automaker Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) plans to set up a joint venture with the parent of iPhone assembler Foxconn to build electric cars (e-cars) and develop internet-connected vehicles in China, as it looks to make up ground in electric mobility.

FCA, which is set to launch its first full-electric model, the 500 small car, this year - last month reached a binding agreement for a $50 billion tie-up with France’s PSA to create the world’s No. 4 carmaker.

The merger with PSA would help the Italian-American automaker to strengthen resources to meet tough new emissions rules and investments in electric mobility, where it has so far lagged its main competitors.

FCA confirmed on Friday it was in talks with Hon Hai on the potential creation of a 50-50 joint venture to develop new generation battery electric vehicles and engage in the IoV, or ‘Internet of Vehicles’, business, with an initial focus on the Chinese market.

FCA’s statement came after Taiwan’s Hon Hai - the parent of Foxconn - announced the potential joint venture in a separate statement.

It “would enable the parties to bring together the capabilities of two established global leaders across the spectrum of automobile design, engineering and manufacturing and mobile software technology to focus on the growing battery electric vehicle market,” FCA said.

Intesa Sanpaolo analyst Monica Bosio described the possible deal as “positive”, though it was not expected to have a significant impact on FCA fundamentals in 2020 and 2021.

“It should help FCA and the future combined entity FCA-PSA to shorten its gap in the electric vehicles and in Asia,” Bosio said. In further evidence of how traditional carmakers are accelerating their electric push into the world’s largest auto market, Germany’s Volkswagen is set to take a 20% stake in Chinese electric vehicle battery maker Guoxuan High-tech Co, two sources told Reuters.

FCA said it was in the process of signing a preliminary agreement with Hon Hai, aiming to reach final binding agreements in the next few months.

However, it added there was no assurance that final binding agreements would be reached or would be completed in that timeframe.

With a share of China’s passenger car market of around 0.35%, FCA currently operates in the country through a loss-making joint venture with Guangzhou Automobile Group (GAC).

However, the joint venture does not produce electric models, raising doubts it could meet China’s tough emissions rules and green car quotas.

FCA Chief Executive Mike Manley last year said the group had “streamlined” the structure of its Chinese partnership and appointed a new leadership to improve its competitiveness.

Foxconn has been investing heavily in a variety of future transport ventures for several years, including Didi Chuxing, the Chinese ride services giant, and Chinese electric vehicle start-ups Byton and Xpeng.

Foxconn also has invested in Chinese battery giant CATL and a variety of other mostly Chinese transportation tech start-ups.

Meanwhile, Great Wall Motor has agreed to buy General Motors’ (GM) car plant in India, the companies said on Friday, as the Chinese automaker expands overseas amid slowing domestic demand.

The deal, which is expected to be completed by the second half of 2020, will jumpstart Great Wall’s plans to build and sell cars in India and bring to an end GM’s manufacturing operations in the country.

People aware of the deal told Reuters earlier on Friday that the two companies had agreed on the sale, with one of the sources adding that Great Wall is likely to pay around $250 million to $300 million to acquire the plant.

“The Indian market has great potential, rapid economic growth and a good investment environment. Entering the Indian market is an important step for Great Wall Motors’ global strategy,” Liu Xiangshang, vice president, global strategy at the Chinese automaker said.

Great Wall, one of the biggest sellers of sports-utility vehicles (SUV) in China, plans to enter India with its Haval and electric vehicle brands and will announce detailed plans at the Delhi auto show in February, Liu said in the statement.

Chinese automakers are accelerating plans to build cars in India to combat slowing sales at home and have been encouraged by the initial success of rival SAIC Motor in the country, sources have told Reuters.

Although car sales in India are also stuttering, the market is expected to become the world’s third biggest by 2026, behind China and the United States, according to consultancy LMC Automotive.


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