Ford to bolster electric vehicle production in multibillion-dollar push

Ford to bolster electric vehicle production in multibillion-dollar push
© Courtesy Ford Motor Co.

Ford Motor Company announced plans on Monday to bolster its electric vehicle footprint in the U.S. by investing billions in three new battery plants and a pickup truck factory — generating 11,000 jobs across Tennessee and Kentucky. 

“This is our moment – our biggest investment ever – to help build a better future for America,” said Jim Farley, Ford president and CEO, said in a press statement. “We are moving now to deliver breakthrough electric vehicles for the many rather than the few.”

Together with South Korean partner SK Innovation, Ford is investing $11.4 billion in these new initiatives, which include a $5.6 billion mega-campus in Stanton, Tenn., called Blue Oval City, which will house a BlueOvalSK battery plant, an assembly line for electric F-Series vehicles, key suppliers and recycling, a news release from the company said. The assembly plant, according to Ford, is designed to be carbon neutral with zero waste.

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In central Kentucky, meanwhile, Ford and SK Innovation will be establishing a $5.8 billion BlueOvalSK Battery Park, which will include “twin battery plants” that will supply Ford’s North American assembly facilities with batteries for electric Ford and Lincoln vehicles, the news release said. 

The new campuses are expected to create 6,000 jobs in Tennessee and 5,000 jobs in Kentucky, according to the partners. Ford’s $7 billion portion of the total $11.4 billion investments marks the biggest manufacturing investment in the firm’s 118-year history, the company said. 

“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 Ford Executive Chair Bill Ford. “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’s announcement comes almost two months after President BidenJoe BidenHow 'Buy American', other pro-US policies can help advocates pass ambitious climate policies Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Biden backtracks on Taiwan Photos of the Week: Manchin protestor, Paris Hilton and a mirror room MORE issued an executive order outlining his goal of making 50 percent of vehicle sales in the country electric by 2030, as The Hill reported at the time. 

Coinciding with the order, Ford had said it expects the company’s vehicle sales to be 40 to 50 percent electric by that year. GM had said it intends to be all-electric by 2035, while Stellantis said it expects that 40 percent of its U.S. vehicle sales would be low-emission by 2030. 

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The Ford and SK Innovation partnership also comes amid high demand for the Ford F-150 Lightning truck, as well as the E-Transit and Mustang Mach-E electric vehicles, the company said. 

The rollouts of these vehicles have not been without issue, however. Just last week, Ford recalled 17,692 of its all-electric Mustang Mach-E SUVs because the windshields and sunroofs may not have been properly bonded to the vehicle, according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration filing.

The Blue Oval City campus in Tennessee will be among the largest automobile manufacturing sites in U.S. history, but will rely on cloud-connected technologies and renewable energy sources to make the facility more sustainable, according to Ford. 

“This is a watershed moment for Tennesseans as we lead the future of the automotive industry and advanced manufacturing,” Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said in a statement. 

When production begins at the site in 2025, Ford said it intends for the assembly plant to be carbon neutral. An on-site wastewater treatment plant will also ensure that the plant makes no freshwater withdrawals, while zero-waste-to-landfill processes will collect materials for scrapping and recycling at both on- and off-site facilities, the company said.

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Production of advance lithium-ion batteries at the twin plants in Kentucky will begin in 2025 — at which time the state will likely become the nation’s largest producer of electric vehicle batteries, a press statement from the governor’s office said. 

“This is the single largest economic development project in the history of our state and this project solidifies our leadership role in the future of the automotive manufacturing industry,” said Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear. “It will transform our economy, creating a better Kentucky with more opportunities for our families for generations. Our economy is on fire – and now, it’s electric. Never again will we be thought of as a flyover state. Our time is now. Our future is now.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden says he's open to altering, eliminating filibuster to advance voting rights Pelosi says GOP senators 'voted to aid and abet' voter suppression for blocking revised elections bill Manchin insists he hasn't threatened to leave Democrats MORE (R-Ky.) likewise applauded Ford’s decision to build the battery plants in his home state, tweeting that this move “will provide a much-needed economic boost to the region and create thousands of well-paying Kentucky jobs.” 

“With Ford’s commitment, we have further solidified our role as a world-class automotive state on the cutting edge of research and development,” McConnell said.