Chinese Truck Maker Eyes Mexico Facility, US Market

Foton Motor Co. Also Looking to Strengthen Partnership With Battery-Maker CATL
The logo for Beiqi Foton Motor Co.
The logo for Beiqi Foton Motor Co., a division of Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co., on one of the company's vehicles at their headquarters in Beijing. (Nelson Ching/Bloomberg News)

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Chinese truck maker Beiqi Foton Motor Co. is planning a second plant in Mexico to manufacture electric vehicles with an eye on U.S. exports.

The plant’s location has yet to be decided, said Roberto Talavera, director of electric vehicles at Foton in Mexico, but the states of Jalisco and Aguascalientes — already home to a number of major automotive facilities — are being carefully considered. The plant is expected to produce traditional internal combustion and electric vehicles, and be operational in 2025.

Beijing-based Foton, which specializes in commercial vehicles, is also preparing to become the Mexican partner for Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd., or CATL, the world’s biggest maker of EV batteries. It will provide technical support, repairs and recycling for CATL’s batteries in the country.

Representatives from CATL declined to comment.

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The Mexico collaboration represents a further deepening of ties between the two Chinese companies. In 2022, Foton and CATL announced plans to establish a joint venture in China for battery rentals under a model known as battery-as-a-service, which allows customers to lease batteries separately from vehicles.

Mexico is increasingly attracting companies’ investment and attention as firms relocate factories to get closer to U.S. consumers and avoid the difficulties caused by lengthy supply chains.

Foton opened its first Mexico plant, located in Jalisco, in 2017. The company already sells electric trucks in Mexico that are imported from China, but the new plant would allow it to produce the vehicles for the local market and eventually to export them to the U.S., Talavera said.

“The goal is to sell 3,000 electric units in Mexico by 2025,” he said.

Talavera said there’s no set investment amount yet on the plant, though he estimated it would be more than $1 billion.

Mexican production of vehicles, a major driver of the nation’s economy, have started to inch back upward following a slump that began in 2020. Domestic sales have also shown signs of a rebound, although they have yet to return to pre-pandemic levels.

— With assistance from Danny Lee.

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