Foxconn’s Wisconsin factory is a seemingly never-ending tale of conflicting claims about what it will do and when it will do it. The latest of these is that it will now be used to make medical ventilators, to help hospitals cope with demand for intensive care beds during the coronavirus crisis.

The Taiwanese company says that it will be partnering with a US medical firm …

Reuters reports.

Foxconn will make ventilators with U.S. firm Medtronic Plc to help patients afflicted by the coronavirus outbreak, the company said on Wednesday.

Foxconn, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd, is best known for assembling Apple’s iPhones at factories in China.

In a statement released through company founder Terry Gou’s office, Foxconn said it was currently cooperating with Medtronic to design and develop ventilators, and medical and technical personnel from both firms were working closely on this.

The statement was backed by Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak. He told CNBC that the company has doubled production at its own plant to 300 per week, would hit 400/week by the end of April, 700/week by the end of May, and 1,000/week by the end of June.

He said that Foxconn capacity would come on top of these numbers, with production beginning in the next 4-6 weeks. No estimate is yet available for the number of ventilators likely to be made in Foxconn’s Wisconsin factory.

The arrangement came about when Medtronic put out a call for partners to help expand capacity.

Past claims for the plant, made by both Foxconn and US politicians, haven’t had the greatest track-record, as we outlined last year.

The original deal, as announced by President Trump, was for the establishment of a hi-tech display factory which was expected to generate 13,000 Wisconsin jobs. So far, however, there is no sign of the factory or any actual construction work on it, and just 178 jobs were created last year.

Wisconsin governor Tony Evers declared earlier this month that the deal ‘is no longer in play’ and said the state needs to renegotiate the promised $4 billion tax breaks to protect taxpayers. Although most of the sum is contingent on hitting jobs targets, almost a billion of it was agreed as upfront investment by the state in land and infrastructure improvements designed to support the promised facility.

Foxconn said it was still committed to the project, despite earlier reports that it was scaling back the plans or not building a factory at all. However, Evers called Foxconn’s bluff with a letter to the CEO’s office calling on the company to announce concrete details about the promised jobs.

But given the importance of this task, let’s hope this plan delivers.

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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