Not long after the contract electronics manufacturer announced plans to build a display manufacturing facility in Wisconsin, Foxconn has reported plans to open a facility in Michigan to work on self-driving vehicle technologies alongside artificial intelligence and deep learning.
Well known for producing iPhones and iPads for Apple, it appears that Foxconn is trying to keep up with all of the other big name players in the electronics industry. Apple, Google, Nvidia, Samsung, and many others have all shown their interests in autonomous vehicles.
"Automotive development in the US is still more advanced than China" – Terry Gou
When asked why the United States was chosen as a location for a new research center, founder Terry Gou stated "automotive development in the US is still more advanced than China". Gou declined to comment on the scale of investment required, but estimates suggest the new project could cost as much as $20 billion.
Building an automotive center in Michigan is likely a move more about strategic planning than cost cutting. Joining a handful of existing premier automotive companies such as Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler could prove useful for supply chain and logistics purposes in addition to finding qualified employees. However, state level tax cuts provided as an incentive could prove to make it cheaper to operate inside the US rather than overseas.
No matter the reasoning, the creation of skilled technical positions is a good sign. Foxconn provides nearly 1 million manufacturing jobs in China, but has long carried a reputation for low wages and poor working conditions. The addition of significantly higher paying jobs in the United States could help Foxconn improve its company image.