Foxconn's Wisconsin Site Will No Longer Be a Factory for Smartphone Displays, Instead Focusing on R&D

by

Foxconn is once again changing plans for its upcoming Wisconsin-based plant in the United States, according to a new report out today by Reuters. Originally set to produce large television displays, and then small to medium displays for smartphones, the location will now pivot to become largely focused on research and development.


Foxconn intends to hire "mostly engineers and researchers" instead of manufacturing workers at the Wisconsin plant. The plans to build smartphone displays, for companies like Apple, have either been greatly scaled back or shelved completely. This information comes from Louis Woo, assistant to Foxconn CEO Terry Gou.

Although the company has yet to formally announce this pivot, Woo says that Foxconn is "not building a factory" in Wisconsin at this point. According to Woo, the steep cost of making advanced screens for TV sets and other devices in the United States led to the decision.

Instead, Woo notes that Foxconn's more profitable solution is to make LCD panels in greater China and Japan, ship them to Mexico for final assembly, and import the finished products to the United States.

Rather than a focus on LCD manufacturing, Foxconn wants to create a “technology hub” in Wisconsin that would largely consist of research facilities along with packaging and assembly operations, Woo said. It would also produce specialized tech products for industrial, healthcare, and professional applications, he added.

“In Wisconsin we’re not building a factory. You can’t use a factory to view our Wisconsin investment,” Woo said.

The Wisconsin project was announced at the White House in 2017, and was used as an example by the Trump administration of a foreign company extending its manufacturing business into the United States. Now, Woo says that three-quarters of the Wisconsin plant will be staffed by people in R&D and design fields, or "knowledge" positions, rather than blue collar manufacturing jobs.

At the time, Foxconn said it would grow to employ as many as 13,000 workers at the site. In recent weeks, the company confirmed it had slowed its pace of hiring, down to about 5,200 people by the end of 2020. Now, a source within the company claims that figure is closer to 1,000 workers to start off. It's unclear if Foxconn still plans to grow to the full 13,000 workforce, and if so when that will happen.

Tag: Foxconn

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
22 months ago

Man, Wisconsin got absolutely screwed - last I read they were giving Foxconn something like $3 billion in tax breaks to build the plant. Not to mention they gave away the land for free and had to pay hundreds of millions to update the roads and infrastructure. I would be livid if I lived there.

Yep. I live there. Can confirm that I’m pissed.

But also can confirm that we thankfully got the idiot that signed off on this deal out of office.

Everyone except for the Walker/Trump/GOP camp knew it was an absolutely horrible deal.
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
22 months ago

Hiring engineers for R&D... is this the legal way of luring technology out of the USA and mass produce in China?

I know this area very well and it's a legal way of saying that nobody around that plant that could really use a good factory job is going to get one.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
22 months ago
Man, Wisconsin got absolutely screwed - last I read they were giving Foxconn something like $3 billion in tax breaks to build the plant. Not to mention they gave away the land for free and had to pay hundreds of millions to update the roads and infrastructure. I would be livid if I lived there.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
22 months ago
World's most expensive campaign advertisement . . . and the guy that put the scheme together didn't even win his reelection bid.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
22 months ago
I guess it was hard to find a company that could make custom screws? :)
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
22 months ago

Is there even a labor pool of R&D engineers and researchers to draw from? This sounds like as poorly a thought out idea as their previous ones.

Yeah – Milwaukee, Chicago, the surrounding suburbs of each; maybe some people in the general area but they'd still be considered part of the Milwaukee-Chicago metropolitan area, anyway. The problem for Wisconsin, though, is that the plant is close enough to the Wisconsin-Illinois border (with fast access to Chicago via I-94 and commuter rail) that the Illinois hires wouldn't feel any need to move to Wisconsin. Everyone else is already close-by.

So, basically, no new retail, real estate, or commercial business development spurred by this. Maybe some new fast food and chain restaurants to serve a lunchtime crowd, but it sounds like there won't even be enough long-term traffic for that.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Leaker: 'iPhone 12 mini' and iPhone 12 Storage Capacities Start at 64GB, Pro Models at 128GB

Tuesday September 29, 2020 2:31 am PDT by
Rumors suggest Apple's iPhone 12 launch event will be held on October 13, with the more affordable 5.4 and 6.1-inch devices set to ship out ahead of the more expensive 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch Pro devices, and this morning hit-and-miss leaker Jon Prosser has further committed to that date by providing alleged details on Apple's first shipment of finalized iPhone 12 units. Prosser claims the...

Hands-On With iOS 14.2's New Shazam Music Recognition Toggle in Control Center

Monday September 28, 2020 2:35 pm PDT by
Shortly after launching iOS 14, Apple introduced an upcoming iOS 14.2 update, which is now available to developers and public beta testers ahead of a public release that could come at some point in October. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. The iOS 14.2 update mainly focuses on the Control Center, introducing a new Music Recognition toggle that deepens the Shazam...

iPhone 12 'Pro Max' Model to Sport Unique High-End Features [Updated]

Wednesday September 30, 2020 2:01 am PDT by
The upcoming "iPhone 12 Pro Max" is anticipated to have a number of unique high-end features not found on any other iPhone, such as its screen size, LiDAR scanner, faster 5G, and potentially a higher display refresh rate. The iPhone 12 Pro Max is also expected to be the largest ever iPhone, with a 6.7-inch display. Previously, the largest iPhones have been 6.5-inches in the iPhone XS Max and ...

DigiTimes: 12.9-inch Mini-LED iPad Pro Arriving Early 2021, Mini-LED MacBook Coming Later

Tuesday September 29, 2020 4:18 am PDT by
Apple will launch a 12.9-inch mini LED-backlit iPad Pro in early 2021 and a mini LED-backlit MacBook in the second-half of next year, according to DigiTimes. The Taiwan-based industry publication claims Epistar will supply the over-10,000 mini LEDs used in each iPad Pro tablet. Meanwhile, Apple is expected to recruit Osram Opto as another supplier of mini LEDs for use in a new "high-end"...

iOS 14.2 Suggests Apple Won't Include EarPods in the Box With iPhone 12

Tuesday September 29, 2020 2:19 pm PDT by
Rumors have suggested that Apple's iPhone 12 models will not include power adapters or EarPods in the box, and a minor code tweak in iOS 14.2 seemingly confirms Apple's plan to sell the new devices without EarPods. In iOS 14 and earlier versions of iOS, there's a mention of reducing exposure to RF energy by using the "supplied headphones," which is the same wording that Apple has used for...

iPhone 12 Production Lines at Foxconn's Zhengzhou Factory in China Running '24 Hours a Day'

Tuesday September 29, 2020 3:38 am PDT by
Apple contract manufacturer Foxconn is running its massive Zhengzhou factory in China 24 hours a day to produce the new iPhone 12, according to Chinese media reports. Apple's main iPhone manufacturer in China is said to be cancelling workers' holidays and introducing mandatory overtime with additional bonuses for longer-serving staff, according to information garnered from employees,...

iPhone 12 May Launch Earlier Than Usual in South Korea

Monday September 28, 2020 5:24 am PDT by
The upcoming iPhone 12 lineup may launch earlier than usual in South Korea, reports The Korea Herald. South Korean telecoms firms speaking to The Korea Herald have said that the iPhone 12 lineup will launch ahead of its usual schedule. Normally, the release of new iPhones in South Korea comes about one month after launch in the United States. Last year, the iPhone 11 arrived in South Korea ...

iOS 14.2 Beta 2 Adds New Emoji Characters like Ninja, Pinata, Bubble Tea, Polar Bear and More

Tuesday September 29, 2020 11:22 am PDT by
The second beta of iOS 14.2 introduces the new Emoji 13 characters that Apple previewed earlier this year as part of World Emoji Day. New emoji options include ninja, people hugging, black cat, bison, fly, polar bear, blueberries, fondue, bubble tea, and more, with a list below. Faces - Smiling Face with Tear, Disguised Face People - Ninja, Person in Tuxedo, Woman in Tuxedo, Person...

Epic Games Unlikely to Win Injunction in Ongoing Fortnite Battle With Apple, Jury Trial Possible

Monday September 28, 2020 1:14 pm PDT by
The ongoing legal dispute between Apple and Epic Games continued on today, with a preliminary injunction hearing taking place this morning. We're still waiting to hear the judge's official ruling, but it looks like Epic is not going to be granted an injunction to allow Fortnite back into the App Store as the case unfolds. Many of the arguments that lawyers for Apple and Epic Games made were...

Apple Releases Ninth Beta of macOS Big Sur to Developers

Tuesday September 29, 2020 10:07 am PDT by
Apple today seeded the Ninth beta of an upcoming macOS Big Sur update to developers for testing purposes, a week after releasing the eighth beta and more than two months after the new update was unveiled at the Worldwide Developers Conference. The macOS Big Sur beta can be downloaded through the Apple Developer Center and once the appropriate profile is installed, subsequent betas will be...