The largest contract electronics manufacturer in the world, Foxconn of Taiwan, announced on Tuesday that it will begin producing driverless electric tractors for California-based Monarch Tractor in Lordstown, Ohio, starting in early 2023.
As the U.S. agriculture industry transitions to smart farming, heavy machinery manufacturers, like Deere & Co. and Georgia-based AGCO, have their sights set on the electric vehicle market.
Since acquiring the Ohio facility that was originally a General Motors Assembly plant last year, Foxconn, best known for producing Apple‘s iPhones, has signed its first manufacturing contract with Monarch Tractor.
The battery-operated MK-V series tractor from Monarch is expected to start being produced in the first quarter of 2023, according to Foxconn, formerly known as Hon Hai Technology Group.
The autonomous electric tractor from Monarch, a Silicon Valley-based company, made its debut to a limited group of farmers last year. Since then, the business and Italian-American automaker CNH Industrial has formed a multi-year licensing arrangement. Monarch Tractor is owned by CNH Industrial in a minority capacity.
With competition brewing among farm equipment manufacturers to expand product lines in precision agriculture technology and autonomous machinery, Monarch‘s chief executive, Praveen Penmetsa, told Reuters that the company’s business model to target smaller farmers gives them a unique opportunity to increase the market share while being on the same playing field with bigger 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 wouldn’t say how much the tractor will cost, but it did say that farmers would need to pay a monthly subscription to access the services and that the autonomous software would be offered separately.