Foxconn to Build Autonomous Electric Tractors

Taiwan’s Foxconn, the world’s largest contract electronics maker, best known for assembling Apple’s iPhone, has announced it will build driverless electric tractors for California-based Monarch Tractor at its Lordstown, Ohio, facility starting in early 2023.

The agreement with Monarch Tractor is the first manufacturing contract that Foxconn has entered into since purchasing the Ohio facility, formerly a General Motors Assembly plant last year.

Production for Monarch’s battery powered MK-V series tractor is scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2023, said Foxconn, formally known as Hon Hai Technology Group.

Monarch, which is based in Silicon Valley, debuted its first pilot series, an autonomous electric tractor, to a select group of farmers last year. The company has since entered into a multi-year licensing agreement with Italian American vehicle manufacturer CNH Industrial.

CNH Industrial has a minority stake in Monarch Tractor.

Monarch’s chief executive, Praveen Penmetsa, told Reuters that the company’s business model of targeting smaller farmers gives them a unique opportunity to increase the market share while occupying the same playing field as larger manufacturers.

“Their technology is focused on the large farm operations and commodity crops. Fruits and vegetable farmers use much smaller tractors, so we are focused on smaller farmers – that differentiates us a lot,” Penmetsa said.

The company did not disclose the cost of the tractor but said the autonomous software will be sold separately and farmers will have to pay a monthly fee to access the services.