Metaverse, EV 'two big things' for Hon Hai's future: Chairman

01/24/2022 04:31 PM
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Hon Hai Chairman Liu Young-way (center) in the company
Hon Hai Chairman Liu Young-way (center) in the company's year-end party. Photo courtesy of Hon Hai.

Taipei, Jan. 24 (CNA) Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., the world's largest contract electronics maker, has called the metaverse concept and electric vehicles the "two next big things" for the company's future development as it diversifies its product mix.

At its online year-end party Sunday, Hon Hai Chairman Liu Young-way (劉揚偉) said Hon Hai has ambitions to play a critical role in the metaverse by developing both hardware and software applicable to that ecosystem.

The so-called "metaverse," a concept that has been talked up by Meta (Facebook) CEO Mark Zuckerberg since July 2021, refers to a digital world where people can move between devices and communicate in a virtual environment.

Liu's speech echoed an interview with tech website TechOrange in which he said last week that Hon Hai is developing quantum computers because high computing strength is necessary to bring the metaverse concept to fruition.

Also reflecting Hon Hai's metaverse ambitions was Google's decision to acquire a 4.6 percent stake in Ennoconn Corp., an industrial computer subsidiary of Hon Hai -- known globally as Foxconn.

Google invested NT$1.107 billion (US$39.96 million) in Ennoconn to become its third-largest shareholder amid metaverse enthusiasm.

Hon Hai is already set to book metaverse revenue. Subsidiary Foxconn Industrial Internet Co., which is publicly listed in Shanghai, has secured large orders for infrastructure devices used in the megaverse catering to 5G, Wi-Fi 6, smart home and sensor applications.

As for its EV business, Liu said Hon Hai signed deals last year with clients from the United States and Southeast Asian and European countries as it unveiled three EV prototype models -- the Model E passenger car, the Model C sports utility vehicle, and the Model T electric bus -- in October 2021.

Liu said its self-developed electric bus is scheduled to be launched in Kaohsiung in the first half of this year, and it expects to start shipping electric pick-ups in the United States in the second half of 2022 through U.S.-based Lordstown Motors' plant.

Hon Hai agreed in November 2021 to purchase the Ohio plant of the cash-strapped electric truck start-up, which is facing class action lawsuits for allegedly defrauding investors with misleading claims about the size of preorders and other questionable behavior.

Meanwhile, Liu said Hon Hai has extended its EV efforts to two-wheel models from four-wheel models, referring to the company's partnership with Taiwan's e-scooter Gogoro announced in June 2021 to develop a global EV battery-exchange system.

Hon Hai has been eager to break into the global EV market, initiating an MIH Open Platform to promote open standards and new technologies for electric vehicles that it hopes will one day become the "Android of the EV industry."

In a recorded video, Hon Hai founder Terry Gou (郭台銘) said the COVID-19 pandemic has created not only risks but also opportunities to the global economy, but Hon Hai will continue to seize on good timing to expand.

In 2021, Hon Hai posted consolidated sales of NT$5.94 trillion, up 11 percent from 2020 and the highest ever for the company.

As the world's largest supplier of devices and components for data centers, Hon Hai generated almost NT$1 trillion in revenue from server shipments alone last year.

Liu has estimated Hon Hai's EV business will reach NT$1 trillion in sales in five years.

(By Chung Jung-feng and Frances Huang)


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