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WUWM’s Chuck Quirmbach reports on innovation in southeastern Wisconsin.

Foxconn Electric Vehicle Speculation Met With Optimism, Skepticism

Chuck Quirmbach
One of the Foxconn buildings in Mount Pleasant as of August, 2020.

Updated 12:03 p.m. CST

Foxconn and Fisker, a California-based electric vehicle company rebooted after a bankruptcy, announced they've signed a memorandum of understanding to build 250,000 electric vehicles (EVs) per year. The cars would be sold in North America and other parts of the world.

Just where the EVs would be built has touched off a lot of speculation.

Fisker's chairman told the Wall Street Journal Wednesday that Foxconn's huge property in Racine County would be an obvious choice. Later Wednesday, a written statement sent to WUWM from Fisker spokesperson Simon Sproule pulled back a bit:

“Thanks for getting in touch. At this time, the manufacturing location has not been decided and is one of the areas we will be studying with our partners at Foxconn. Let's keep in touch into Q2 when we expect to have completed the project planning phase.”

As a part of a new release about the partnership, Foxconn Technology Group sent the following written statement to WUWM: 

“Our presence in Wisconsin has caught the attention of many businesses and investors who share our vision for a Park that is sustainable for business and community growth. This will make our Park, the region, and our state a new hub for next-gen technological product design and smart manufacturing. As a contract manufacturer, Foxconn requires flexibility in order to respond to market demand with speed and agility."

The office of Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers did not respond to our request for comment. The state agency, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), says it doesn't discuss its ongoing conversations with businesses.

WEDC has said it continues to talk with Foxconn about possible changes to the state subsidies agreement the Taiwan-based firm signed with the Walker administration four years ago. WEDC maintains Foxconn has not met hiring or investment goals to qualify for state aid.

Kim Mahoney, a Racine County resident who has refused to sell her family home to Foxconn, says it would be great if the new collaboration built cars in Mount Pleasant to help make up the economic shortfall from what Foxconn originally promised the area.

"But given that Foxconn has made several announcements about what they would be making here, most of which have not materialized, I'm just skeptical that a company like Fisker will be the magic bullet for Foxconn in Wisconsin,” says Mahoney.

But the Racine County Executive and the Village of Mount Pleasant officials have released the following statement: “We are pleased to see the exciting collaboration between Fisker and Foxconn to develop a breakthrough electric vehicle. While we look forward to hearing further details, we remain very encouraged by Foxconn’s progress at the Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park and the positive impact the Village and County has already experienced.”

Electric vehicle production by Foxconn and Fisker — wherever it might happen — wouldn't begin for another two and a half years.

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