Foxconn’s annual showcase on Wednesday featured a special guest: Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang, clad in his now-famous leather jacket.
Huang joined Foxconn chairman Young Liu on stage in Taipei, showing off a rough hand-drawn sketch of what he dubbed an “AI factory.” The chip CEO predicted that “in the future, every company, every industry, will have AI factories,” suggesting that these facilities would use data to produce “intelligence as an output.”
Hon Hai Precision Industry, known internationally as Foxconn, is best known for being one of Apple’s most important suppliers of the iPhone. But the manufacturer is now trying to build on that success by expanding to new areas: AI, semiconductors, and EVs, a highlight of Wednesday’s event.
During its tech day, Foxconn unveiled its latest vehicle: An electric cargo van, which joins an existing EV lineup ranging from a bus to an SUV. The company also promised its Model C, an SUV, will be delivered to a Taiwanese customer next month and be on the roads early next year. It’s been widely reported that the brand in question is Luxgen, a Taiwanese automaker, which has marketed the vehicle as the n7 with a starting price of just under $31,000.
Foxconn built its success making consumer electronics for companies like Apple, Dell, and Sony. The company now hopes to replicate that “behind-the-scenes” model with EVs, by manufacturing vehicles for other firms and brands.
During last year’s tech showcase, Liu targeted a 5% share of EV manufacturing by 2025, muscling in on a space currently dominated by U.S.-based Tesla and China-based BYD. “I hope one day we can do Tesla cars for Tesla,” he said at the time.
On Wednesday, Nvidia said it would be a key partner in Foxconn’s EV plans. Nvidia and Foxconn’s “AI factory” would be an entire end-to-end system that will include applications even for autonomous EVs, Huang said. “This car would of course go through life experience and collect more data. The data would go to the AI factory, the AI factory would improve the software and update the entire AI fleet,” he continued.
Nvidia and Foxconn’s announcement on Wednesday comes at a challenging time for both companies.
Foxconn is facing tougher competition for its contract manufacturing services. Chinese rival Luxshare Precision—founded by Wang Laichun, herself a former Foxconn employee—is reportedly now making Apple products, including the iPhone 15 and the Vision Pro headset. Apple CEO Tim Cook also stopped by a Luxshare factory on Wednesday, as part of his surprise trip to China, according to state media.
Nvidia, too, is facing a new regulatory challenge from the U.S. On Tuesday, the Biden administration announced expanded controls on chip sales to China. The changes target loopholes that allowed Nvidia to sell its A800 and H800 graphics processing units to China, which circumvent U.S. controls passed last October.
Shares in Nvidia fell almost 5% in Tuesday trading. In August, the chipmaker said it generated about a quarter of its data center revenue from China.