The global pandemic has been a nightmare for manufacturers, disrupting operations up and down the supply chain and making some components and materials impossibly hard to come by. That’s been especially true of semiconductor chips, which are counted upon to control virtually everything in automobiles these days. Now, Stellantis is determined never to be caught at a disadvantage due to semiconductor shortages ever again – at least on its battery-electric vehicles.
This month, Stellantis – the global automotive corporation formed by the merger of Fiat Chrysler and France’s PSA Group – announced a partnership with electronics giant Foxconn with the aim of developing four all-new families of flexible semiconductor chips built specifically for automotive use. The chips will not only help power future Stellantis vehicles, finding their way into Stellantis’s four future battery electric vehicle platforms, but will also be supplied to other automakers.
The Stellantis partnership with Foxconn was announced at the same time that the automaker unveiled a new electronic and software architecture called “STLA Brain,” which will launch in 2024 across its four BEV platforms: STLA Small, Medium, Large, and Frame. The architecture will be fully Over-The-Air (OTA) capable, meaning updates and patches can be administered wirelessly without requiring a trip to the dealership – a feature that’s been a big bragging point for Tesla, which other automakers have been keen to replicate.
For Stellantis, the goal is largely to reduce the semiconductor complexity of its products, making the supply puzzle a bit easier to solve if there is ever another major global semiconductor shortage. It also affords the automaker the chance to help guide chip development to ensure that its own needs and standards are prioritized.
Meanwhile, Foxconn appears to have some EV ambitions of its own. Just this year, the electronics giant unveiled three EV prototypes based on an open-source hardware and software platform of its own design, under the banner of the “Mobility In Harmony” Consortium, or “MIH” Consortium. These included an electric bus with an expected 250 miles of range, and a sedan capable of accelerating to 100 kph – or 62 mph – in 2.8 seconds.
That’s about half-a-second slower than the 840-horsepower 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, but hey, it’s a start.