Ford is to build a new development center for electric batteries in Michigan. A first step towards independence in manufacturing the flagship electric car component and an opportunity to part with the current South Korean supplier that the company relied on in its delivery.
Since the introduction of the Mach-E, which reflected Ford’s turn in electrification, the manufacturer has known that making batteries will be a crucial choice. Until then, the brand had relied on outsourcing know-how and its suppliers. But the tide has changed and Ford has made a real turnaround.
Instead of using SK Innovation for its supply, the American company will rely on its own skills and factories. With the US trade disputes, component imports are becoming increasingly delicate and a change in the company’s head has led to this decision.
The initial stage before mass production
Tesla had made the same observation with LG. But his supplier is determined to uphold his consent and will do whatever it takes to please Elon Musk and his teams. Since September 2020 and “Battery Day”, the manufacturer continues to encourage its partner to go further, for example to encourage him to settle in the USA (but also in Europe) in order to be able to offer a new local production line for the production of Teslas New generation battery (4680).
Unlike Tesla, however, Ford is still in the early stages of battery development. The brand has not announced a timeline to plan the arrival of the new batteries, which are being developed in-house. In addition, Ford has not yet built its specialized manufacturing facility.
The investment will be substantial and development could take some time. But Ford says it is ready and has released double what it originally planned for an amount of $ 29 billion by 2025. The autonomous car will also be part of the envelope (Ford unveiled its recently released “Bluecruise” system).
Change of mind at Ford
General Motors has teamed up with LG Chem on site, among other things, to build two battery factories in the USA, which are scheduled to open at the end of 2023. In Europe, Volkswagen has taken the lead with the announcement of its own “Gigafactory”, which competes with Tesla, is slated for 2030. A strategy closer to Ford’s, but a few months in advance.
As The Verge reminds us, Ford’s decision was a real turning point. In July 2020, less than a year ago, Ford was against the idea of making its own batteries. During this time, CEO Jim Hackett has been in the position since he was replaced by Jim Farley with a very different opinion on the matter. A double bet that Ford cannot return to. Especially since the brand is planning the arrival of its F-150 electric pickup.