PORTLAND, Ore.—Engineers from Beiqi Foton Motor Co. Ltd. and Freescale Semiconductor Inc. will work together at the newly anointed Foton/Freescale Automotive Joint Lab in Beijing to integrate Freescale microcontrollers and sensors into automotive control systems for the powertrain, chassis, safety and "green" aspirations of the Chinese automakers.
Foton Motor claims to be the biggest commercial vehicle maker in China, manufacturing 600,000 commercial vehicles in 2009—making it the fourth largest automotive maker worldwide. Following the model already established by Freescale in its work with other automotive power-houses in the U.S. and Europe—from Delphi to Robert Bosch—Foton and Freescale will jointly develop microcontroller and sensor technologies that meet the unique needs of Foton's target market—namely Chinese vehicles.
"Bosch and Delphi have decades of experience in engine control that Foton and other newer auto makers in Asia have to develop," said Steve Nelson, Freescale's director of auto marketing. "But Foton doesn't just want to catch up, they want to jump ahead, which we see as an opportunity—who knows what sort of new innovations our joint development work might drive."
The Automotive Joint Lab at Foton Motors follows the model of other Freescale-sponsored development efforts at Chery Automobile Co. Ltd. and Dongfeng Motor Group Co. in China and Mando Corp. in South Korea. As the Chinese government sets increasingly stringent "green energy" goals for the automotive industry, the Foton/Freescale Automotive Joint Lab will work to fulfill them. Specifically, the two companies plan to create customized versions of its 32-bit Power Architecture microprocessors, its 16-bit S12X and 8-bit S08 microcontrollers, as well as analog power-management chips and MEMS sensors.
According to Freescale, the large and growing market in China along with government mandates on safety and energy conservation dovetail well with the local automobile makers goal of leapfrogging traditional automotive solutions, resulting in intellectual property that Freescale will be able to add to its toolbox of automotive semiconductor offerings worldwide.
Target areas for the Foton/Freescale Automotive Joint Lab include co-developed semiconductor solutions for all-electric vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles along with traditional powertrain, chassis and safety technologies. Foton's domestic automotive brands include Auman, AUV, Aumark, MP-X, Midi, View, Saga, Ollin, Sup and Forland.