Ford revealed its plans recently to invest $3.5 billion in constructing the first-ever automaker-supported lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery factory in the country. This move will give customers access to a new battery chemistry option for Ford's EV lineup, adding to the current lithium-ion battery technology.
They're calling it BlueOval Battery Park Michigan - that's where 2,500 people will get to work in 2026 producing LFP batteries for Ford's electric vehicles - and it is the first of it's kind here in the US. While other automakers use the LFP battery chemistry in their electric vehicles, Ford will be the first to own it's own LFP factory here in the country and it's only a small part of the commitment the company is making to the electric revolution.
Ford and its battery tech partners have committed to investing in electric vehicle and battery production in the US. And since 2019 - with this latest $3.5 billion investment included - the total commitment comes to $17.6 billion. This investment is part of Ford's larger plan to invest over $50 billion in electric vehicles globally by 2026. The investments made in the next three years will create over 18,000 direct jobs in Michigan, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, and Missouri, and over 100,000 indirect jobs, according to an independent study conducted in 2020. These investments mark a significant step towards creating a more sustainable future and increasing job opportunities here in the US.
“We are committed to leading the electric vehicle revolution in America, and that means investing in the technology and jobs that will keep us on the cutting edge of this global transformation in our industry,” said Bill Ford, Ford executive chair. “I am also proud that we chose our home state of Michigan for this critical battery production hub.”
By diversifying and localizing its battery supply chain in the countries where it produces EVs, Ford aims to make its vehicles more accessible and affordable for customers, while also strengthening consumer demand. As part of its Ford+ plan, the company is striving to achieve an annual production rate of 600,000 electric vehicles worldwide by the end of 2023 and 2 million globally by the end of 2026.
As Ford ramps up its electric vehicle production, the introduction of LFP batteries will enable the company to produce a higher number of electric vehicles and provide a wider range of options to new EV customers.
By offering LFP batteries as an alternative to nickel cobalt manganese (NCM) batteries, Ford is providing its customers with the flexibility to choose the battery chemistry that best fits their specific needs. LFP batteries are known for their durability and ability to handle frequent and fast charging, all while utilizing fewer high-demand, high-cost materials.
This cost-effective battery, produced at scale, will assist Ford in maintaining or even lowering the prices of its electric vehicles, making them more affordable for customers. Ford plans to use these LFP batteries to power a range of next-generation EV passenger vehicles and trucks currently in development, with most being produced in the US.
“Ford’s electric vehicle lineup has generated huge demand. To get as many Ford EVs to customers as possible, we’re the first automaker to commit to build both NCM and LFP batteries in the United States,” said Jim Farley, Ford president and CEO. “We’re delivering on our commitments as we scale LFP and NCM batteries and thousands, and soon millions, of customers will begin to reap the benefits of Ford EVs with cutting-edge, durable battery technologies that are growing more affordable over time.”
As a means to increase production capacity and reduce wait times for customers, Ford plans to introduce LFP batteries on the Mustang Mach-E this year and on the F-150 Lightning in 2024, even before the new battery plant becomes operational.
As a part of its strategy, Ford has forged a new agreement with Contemporary Amperex Technology Co., Limited (CATL) – the world's leading battery manufacturer. The agreement will allow Ford's wholly owned subsidiary to manufacture battery cells using LFP battery cell expertise and services provided by CATL.
These LFP battery cells will be integrated by Ford engineers into its electric vehicles, as the company looks to expand its battery capacity and technology through various key collaborations. This agreement with CATL adds to Ford's existing battery capacity and technology, which has been made possible through collaborations with LG Energy Solution (LGES) and SK On. Through these partnerships, Ford is well-positioned to enhance its electric vehicle offerings and establish itself as a significant player in the expanding electric vehicle market.
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Production and shipping of Ford's F-150 Lightning pickup truck is anticipated to remain halted until at least the end of next week as the company deals with a potential battery issue that led to a vehicle fire on February 4. In an announcement on Wednesday, the automaker revealed its plans to address the problem and ensure customer safety.
Ford has said that its engineers have likely identified the source of the vehicle fire, and investigations into the problem are anticipated to conclude by the end of next week. Following this, the company plans to make changes to the truck's battery production process, which may take a few weeks to implement. As production remains on hold, Ford is reassuring customers that F-150 Lightnings already delivered to dealerships and customers are not affected.
"We believe we have identified the root cause of this issue," Ford spokeswoman Emma Bergg told CBS MoneyWatch on Wednesday. "By the end of next week, we expect to conclude our investigation and apply what we learn to the truck's battery production process."
The fire, which was initially reported by the Detroit Free Press, took place during a pre-delivery quality inspection in a holding lot.
The F-150 Lightning pickup's battery is provided by SK On, a subsidiary of South Korean company SK Innovation. To date, there have been no significant battery problems reported for batteries supplied by SK.
Ford does have plans to switch battery chemistries in the F-150 Lightning to a safer lithium iron phosphate (LFP) but those plans are unrelated and were already in the works long before this incident.
No additional information has been provided by the company at this time.
Ford is no stranger to building souped-up performance demonstrator vehicles... and the latest F-150 Lightning teaser has the world buzzing...
Ford recently made an announcement of its comeback to Formula 1 racing in partnership with Red Bull Racing in 2026. Along with the announcement, they also shared a graphic (pictured below) showcasing how they believe racing leads to the development of successful products. The graphic contained outlines of several upcoming vehicles, including an electric pickup demonstrator (based on the F-150 Lightning), new Mustang race cars, and the already disclosed Ranger Raptor.
Previous EV performance demonstrator vehicles were the Mustang Cobra Jet 1400 dragstrip special, the 1,400-horsepower, 7-motor Mustang Mach-E 1400 Prototype, the 1,973-hp quad-motor SuperVan 4, and the 1978 F-100 Eluminator pickup. Each as absolutely ridiculous and spectacular as the rest.
The next EV performance demonstrator can now be all but confirmed as CEO Jim Farley took to Twitter to share a photo of himself giving Formula 1 racing driver Daniel Ricciardo a sneak peak at the vehicle.
The details regarding the unveiling of the F-150 Lightning performance demonstrator are uncertain at this time, including the method Ford intends to use for showcasing it, and if influence any changes or additions to the production version F-150 Lightning. If they do release a performance version of the truck, it might have some crazy numbers that go along with it.
One thing is certain though, Ford is serious about performance.
On the heels of massive price cuts across the board by Tesla, Ford today cut prices of its Mustang Mach-E by as much as $5,900 in some cases. In a tweet this morning, Ford's CEO Jim Farley mentioned the price cuts along with an increase in production for the brand's best selling electric vehicle.
"At Ford, we want to make EVs more accessible, so we’re increasing Mustang Mach-E production & reducing prices across the Mach-E lineup," Farley said, "Scaling will shorten customer wait times. And with higher production, we’re reducing costs, which allows us share these savings with customers."
Ford ended 2022 with a production rate of roughly 78,000 Mach-E vehicles and plans to ramp production up to a rate of more than 130,000 units annually by the end of 2023. However, not every Mach-E model will bring profits for the company. During a media briefing, Ford's Chief Customer Officer for electric vehicle business, Marin Gjaja, explained that the price cuts will mean that some Mach-E trim levels will fall below a profitable point on a per-unit basis. However, cutting prices was a move that Ford needed to take if they want the Mustang Mach-E to stay competitive.
"We are responding to changes in the marketplace,” Gjaja said during a media briefing, “As we look and want to stay competitive in the marketplace, we’re having to respond.”
The company expects to make up for the loss of profits through the scaling of production and reduction of supply costs for materials. As production increases, the cost per-unit should drop.
The 2023 Mach-E prices now start at roughly $46,000 to $64,000, placing it firmly in the midst of the competition from Tesla, Hyundai, Kia, and others.
2023 Mustang Mach-E Updated Pricing
Source: Ford Motor Co., *MSRP: Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price
While these price changes affect future customers, existing customers who recently purchased (after Jan. 1, 2023) a Mach-E won't be left out to dry. According to the company, representatives will reach out to these customers with a "private offer" to quell any ill will. Customers currently awaiting delivery will automatically receive the adjusted prices.
There was no indication from Ford about which specific trim levels would or would not be profitable after these price cuts. The company had previously reported last year that they were struggling to produce the Mach-E profitably.
“We actually had a positive bottom line profit when we launched the Mach-E, commodity costs have wiped that out,” Chief Financial Officer John Lawler said in June 2022. Before the end of last year, Ford even raised prices for the Mach-E to offset the rising cost of materials.
“We want to make money. Don’t get me wrong, we absolutely want to make money,” Gjaja said. “Believe you me, I know that we need to be trying to get more profitable because we will be publicly accountable for that number.”