In Michigan, a new electric battery development center is to be built by Ford. A first step towards independence in production of the flagship component of electric cars, and a way to part with its current South Korean supplier, on whom it relied for its supply.
Since the launch of the Mach-E, which reflected Ford’s turn in electrification, the manufacturer knows that the production of batteries will be a decisive choice. Until then, the brand had counted on outsourcing expertise and relying on its supplier. But the tide has changed, and Ford has made a real turnaround.
Rather than calling on SK Innovation for its supply, the American firm will rely on its own skills and factories. With the American trade disputes, imports of components are more and more delicate, and a change in the head of the company 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 keep their agreement, and will do anything to satisfy Elon Musk and his teams. Since September 2020 and the “Battery Day”, the manufacturer continues to encourage its partner to go further, such as encouraging him to settle in the United States (but also in Europe) to be able to offer a new local production line for the production of Tesla’s new generation battery (4680).
That said, unlike Tesla, Ford is still in the early stages of battery development. No timetable has been announced by the brand to plan the arrival of the new batteries developed in-house. Besides, Ford has yet to build its specialized production plant.
The investment will be significant, and development could take time. But Ford says he is ready, and has released double the funds he had initially planned, for an amount of $ 29 billion by 2025. The autonomous car will also be part of the envelope (Ford presented its “Bluecruise” system recently).
Change of mind at Ford
Among other competitors, local to begin with, General Motors has teamed up with LG Chem to build two battery factories in the United States, which should open at the end of 2023. In Europe, Volkswagen has taken the lead with the announcement of its own “Gigafactory”, competing with Tesla, scheduled for 2030. A strategy closer to that of Ford, but a few months in advance.
As recalled The Verge, Ford’s decision is a real turnaround. In July 2020, less than a year ago, Ford was against the idea of producing its own batteries. But during this period, CEO Jim Hackett was in place, since replaced by Jim Farley, with a very different opinion on the matter. A double bet on which Ford will not be able to turn back. Especially since the brand is planning the arrival of its electric F-150 pickup.