Foxconn has made further moves to strengthen its position in EV battery development, following its recent announcement to cooperate with Formosa Plastics Group on developing solid-state batteries. This time, Foxconn seems to have set its eyes on another type of next-generation batteries – batteries that feature silicon-oxygen anodes.
Lately, Foxconn has been aggressively pursuing its so-called “3+3 strategy” that applies AI, semiconductors and next-generation telecommunications on three industrial sectors: EVs, healthcare and robotics.
Through a subsidiary, Foxconn has now acquired a 10.54% stake in Giga Solar Materials Corp., becoming its second largest shareholder. Giga Solar Materials, also a member of Foxconn’s MiH Alliance, was founded in 2003, and originally supplied solar cell materials. It entered the battery sector in 2009, dedicated to the production of lithium-ion batteries and the acrylic adhesives used in battery assembly.
Giga Solar Materials began with cathode materials, and founded a subsidiary dedicated to lithium iron phosphate (LFP) cathode materials. Then, with the EV market in mind, the company started to target anode materials in 2014, undertaking R&D on silicon-oxygen anodes. Its trajectory began to overlap with that of Foxconn when Giga Solar Materials acquired a 8.15% stake in Long Time Technology Co., a manufacturer of graphite products used in battery anodes. Foxconn also invested in the same company and remains its largest shareholder.
Together, Long Time Technology and Giga Solar Materials have been working on silicon-graphite composites used for next-generation Li-ion batteries. Currently, the new batteries have entered limited production for Chinese market. Silicon-oxygen batteries, with its improved energy density, have been lauded as an alternative to the current graphite-anode Li-ion batteries.
Besides anode and cathode materials, Giga Solar Materials has also sought applications for its battery products by investing in the e-bus manufacturer Tron-E. Tron-E has already become the largest e-bus provider in Taiwan with over half of the market share, and it is expanding into the Indonesian market as well.
Giga Solar Materials is expected to use Foxconn’s investment to build a production line for anode materials. Meanwhile, Foxconn’s recent moves in the battery sector have partly dissipated previous doubts on its EV ambition. It remains to be seen, however, if Foxconn would build its own battery gigafactory and where it would be located. Taiwan Cement Corp., for now, is planning to open Taiwan’s first gigafactory for LFP battery production, with an annual capacity of 1.8 GWh.