Conventional automakers are scaling up their all-electric game.
Ford is building three new EV battery plants, one in Tennessee and two in Kentucky, with ambitions to seize the leadership role in the all-electric vehicle space in the coming decade, in an $11.4-billion deal with the South Korea-based company SK Innovation, according to an embargoed media briefing attended by IE.
The first Kentucky plant will complete assembly in 2025, with a sister plant slated for completion in 2026, creating 11,000 new jobs. And, combined, the output of these three new facilities will be 129 GWh — enough to power 1 million EVs. No, we're not exaggerating.
Ford and SK Innovation are building three new battery manufacturing plants in the US
Ford Motor Company wants to bring electric vehicles to a greater scale for U.S. consumers with two colossal and eco-friendly facilities in both Kentucky and Tennessee, capable of producing the next generation of all-electric F-Series trucks, in addition to the batteries needed to power future Ford and Lincoln EVs. This is a joint announcement and deal with the firm's partner, SK Innovation, who committed $7 billion and $4.4 billion, respectively. The $5.6-billion "mega-campus" in Stanton, Tenn. will be called Blue Oval City, and will offer 6,000 new jobs, along with community-designed technical training programs to strengthen the local community. Ford and SK Innovation also plan to build a $5.8-billion battery manufacturing complex called BlueOvalSK Battery Park, where 5,000 new jobs will need filling. It's important to remember that these are component plants, not automotive assembly, and that the new effort to manufacture batteries will run parallel with other ambitions to build a more reliable means of recycling lithium-ion batteries at minimal cost to the environment.
The aim is to develop a manufacturing line to supply Ford's North American car assembly plants with locally assembled batteries. These will be needed more than ever as the firm unveils future Lincoln and Ford EVs. "This is a transformative moment where Ford will lead America's transition to electric vehicles and usher in a new era of clean, carbon-neutral manufacturing," said Bill Ford, the company's Executive Chair. "With this investment and a spirit of innovation, we can achieve goals once thought mutually exclusive — protect our planet, build great electric vehicles Americans will love and contribute to our nation's prosperity."
Ford has never invested this much in a single manufacturing deal
Partial credit to this deal goes to the strong demand the company saw for its nascent Ford F-150 Lightning truck, in addition to its E-Transit and Mustang Mach-E vehicles. It's hard to overstate how significant this is for auto-manufacturing in the country, since, according to the media briefing, Ford hasn't single-handedly built an entirely new plant from the ground up since the first Kentucky plant was commissioned in 1969.
"This is our moment — our biggest investment ever — to help build a better future for America," said CEO and President of Ford, Jim Farley, during the media event. "We are moving now to deliver breakthrough electric vehicles for the many rather than the few. It's about creating good jobs that support American families, an ultra-efficient, carbon-neutral manufacturing system, and a growing business that delivers value for communities, dealers and shareholders." Ford has never invested this much in a manufacturing deal, in its 118 years of operation, but the company considers this part of its more-than-$30 billion investment in EVS through 2025, with aims to develop the country's manufacturing ecosystem for the 21st century, while keeping in mind its commitment to meet the Paris Climate Agreement deadline with zero carbon no later than the year 2050.