Foxconn Gives Sharp the Lead on $7 Billion U.S. Manufacturing Plant

Following weeks of reports and speculation on the potential opening of a United States-based factory built by Apple suppliers Foxconn and Sharp, a report from Reuters today states that Sharp is "taking the lead" on a $7 billion plant in the U.S. that was initially outlined by parent company Foxconn. The plant will break ground sometime in the first half of 2017.

The timing of the news coincides with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's incoming meeting with President Donald Trump, the driving force behind the recent glut of U.S. iPhone manufacturing news. In a phone call with Apple CEO Tim Cook in December, Trump said it will be a "real achievement" for his Presidency when he gets Apple to shift device manufacturing stateside.

A decision by Foxconn to give Sharp the lead would come as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe prepares to travel to the United States to meet U.S. President Donald Trump, who in his inauguration speech vowed to put "America first".

In a package Tokyo hopes will please Trump, Abe will unveil investments to create as many as 700,000 U.S. jobs, people familiar with the matter told Reuters earlier.

Abe will visit Trump at his private Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida over the weekend, where the two leaders will play golf, following a meeting on Friday in Washington.
Sharp previously cited interest in building U.S. plants for LCD panel construction for TV sets and home appliances. Foxconn's rumored U.S. plans are more closely aligned with Apple through a proposed $7 billion joint investment with the Cupertino company, which would potentially lead to a display manufacturing facility in the country. Sharp now appears to be spearheading that project.

According to people familiar with the matter, PM Abe will present a plan to create more than 700,000 jobs through U.S.-based operations and include a variety of manufacturing companies, as well as Foxconn and Sharp. As usual, a Sharp spokesperson said that no official decision has yet been made on building a factory within the U.S.

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Sharp Executive Says Plan for Foxconn LCD Plant in U.S. is Still ‘On The Table’

Foxconn and Sharp are looking closer than ever to building a manufacturing plant within the United States, according to one Sharp executive who said that the plan is still "on the table" (via Nikkei). The plant would mainly be focused on the manufacturing of LCD panels for TV sets and home appliances, but Foxconn is said to be considering moving iPhone production stateside as well.

The news continues a rumor from last year born out of President-elect Donald Trump's comments on wanting Apple to make its products stateside. Foxconn laid out plans for such a move in December, along with Japan-based SoftBank Group, with each company hoping to create a combined 100,000 jobs in the U.S. over the next four years.

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Nothing is yet official, however, and the same Sharp executive noted that "we will make a decision carefully."
Hon Hai Precision Industry and its Japanese subsidiary Sharp have begun studying the possibility of building a liquid crystal display panel plant in the U.S., a Sharp executive said Friday.

With Trump urging American manufacturers to bring operations back to the U.S., Hon Hai is considering production in the U.S. due to its huge market for TVs and other home appliances.
Although details about the cost of the plant and its location remain unspecified, people familiar with the plan said Foxconn would spend about the same amount on constructing the U.S. location as it did on a similar facility in Guangzhou -- around 1 trillion yen, or $8.69 billion.

As an incentive, Donald Trump in November told Apple CEO Tim Cook that he would offer the company a "very large tax cut" to make its products in the U.S. Cook was said to have remained largely neutral on the subject during his call with Trump, later pointing out that one of the major reasons Apple's manufacturing is so heavily centered in China is due to the country's large number of individuals with the required "vocational kind of skills."

Foxconn and Apple both have manufacturing facilities on a very small scale in the U.S., but the newly discussed facility by Foxconn and Sharp would be notably larger. Currently, Foxconn has plants in Virginia and Indiana, along with logistic locations in California and Texas. Apple has a comparably limited facility in Austin, Texas which manufactures the company's Mac Pro.

Tags: Foxconn, Sharp

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Foxconn Taking Advantage of Sharp Acquisition With OLED Production Line Set for Upcoming iPhones

Sharp is gearing up to help create OLED displays for the iPhone inside of Foxconn's "iPhone City" plant in Zhengzhou, China, according to a new report by Nikkei (via DigiTimes). Foxconn acquired Sharp in 2016, and soon after reports emerged that Foxconn would use its newly acquired investment in Sharp to become a major OLED supplier for Apple.

Today's report points toward the OLED displays being manufactured for iPhone models further down the line than the upcoming 2017 model. Production on the Sharp line in the Foxconn plant is believed to begin "sometime in 2019," with around $864 million being spent on OLED production specifically for upcoming iPhones.
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Sharp plans to invest JPY100 billion (US$864 million) to set up an OLED production line at Foxconn Electronics' factory in Zhengzhou City, northern China, with production to begin in 2019, according to Japan-based Nikkei.

As Foxconn produces iPhones at the factory, the OLED capacity is believed to be specifically for supplying OLED panels for upcoming iPhone models.
According to recent rumors, Apple will launch at least one iPhone model with an OLED screen in 2017. From there, the actual design of the OLED screen has been conflicting, including reports that the screen will wrap around the edges of the device, or potentially a more traditional screen that still eliminates the bezels but includes a stainless steel frame.

Because OLED displays are more difficult to produce in mass quantities, in comparison to LCD displays, Apple's suppliers will be unable to meet the company's production capacity for the 2017 iPhone. The strain on production is believed to be the major reason why Apple is considering an OLED display for only one 2017 iPhone model, likely to be the higher-cost version.


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