Following its first membership meeting in March, the Foxconn-initiated MIH Consortium held its second gathering, also its official opening event, on June 25th. In the online presentation, Foxconn revealed the detailed organizational structure of the consortium as well as its objectives to reduce production cycle and costs.
From the outset, the MIH platform has defined itself as an open platform providing essential hardware and software components for developers to build EV systems, laying the basis for an EV ecosystem. It emphasizes a modular design that enables the customization of essential EV features such as battery packs and suspension systems.
Speed is MIH’s key to success
In the event, Young Liu, the Foxconn chair, declared that MIH’s goal is to shorten the production cycle of electric vehicles (EVs) from four years to two years. In addition, it aims to reduce EV production costs by half or one-third.
Liu has long believed that speed is a key advantage as the electronics industry enters the EV sector, coming in competition with traditional automakers. The recent chip shortage crisis proves that the traditional supply chain configuration of the automotive industry, designed for a production cycle that can take years, is failing to catch up with the fast-paced nature of EV production.
The electronics industry, instead, is used to a faster production cycle that might only take months, and the MIH Consortium aspires to offer a vertically-integrated supply chain to speed up the process.
Changing the landscape of software-hardware integration
Aided by autopilot and in-vehicle infotainment, the EV industry partly drives the latest industrial trend of hardware and software integration. And Foxconn would like to be the bridge between the two.
Ever since MIH was announced in October last year, more than 1680 companies from 50 countries have joined the consortium. It was revealed that 80% of MIH members were from the hardware industry, while the remaining 20% came from a software background. Among MIH members are household names like Amazon Web Services, ARM and Microsoft. In fact, according to MIH’s interim CEO, Jack Cheng, 56.11% of MIH members are in the newly emerged platform industry.
Nevertheless, Tier 1 suppliers like Bosch and Continental are also MIH members. As electronics companies like Taiwan’s Delta Electronics are looking to compete with them as integrated solution providers for the EV industry, these traditional players have been adding to their software capabilities.
The MIH itself has come up with its own software and hardware products too. Last year it showcased a prototype lightweight chassis with an unibody design.
And In January, the first-generation EV developer tool “EVKit” was released as one of MIH’s core features. Adopting open communication protocols and drive-by-wire technology, the EVKit provides an interface for autopilot engineers to conduct designs while reducing the costs significantly.
The Japanese company Tier IV, also a MIH member, has been a key player in EVKit’s development and MIH’s autopilot program alongside other major participants like Taiwan’s ADLINK Technology and Industry Technology Research Institute (ITRI).
According to Shinpei Kato, Tier IV’s founder, the first-generation EVKit will enable Level 2 automated driving, but remains compatible with future upgrades to level 4 automation – a capability that stand-alone systems often lack.
Meanwhile, the next version of MIH’s EV kit will integrate Tier IV’s own open-source operating system, Autoware. The inclusion, Tier IV hopes, will broaden the customer base of Autoware through integration with other EV parts. Previously, as Kato put it, only the biggest automakers had the capabilities to achieve software-hardware integration with Autoware, but MIH’s approach changed the landscape.
Full independence from Foxconn
Until December 31, 2021, the goal of MIH’s interim Board of Directors, CEO and other functionalities is to start the operations of the consortium and build a more diverse and inclusive governance structure. Young Liu also made it clear that a new Board of Directors will be formed, and above all, MIH will be independent of Foxconn.
However, Liu also guaranteed that Foxconn’s own EV division, Foxtronn, will leverage MIH’s designs and standards and also prioritize the components and solutions from MIH members.
With MIH officially established, the real challenge lies in product developments and market entry strategies. Since the MIH project was announced, Foxconn has aggressively entered various partnerships to support its R&D and find the entry points into foreign markets.
Based on Foxconn’s schedule, it plans to debut a commercialized solid-state battery by 2024.