In mid-February this year, Ford announced plans to launch a plant in Michigan by 2026 to produce traction batteries for electric vehicles using Chinese CATL technologies. It was supposed to be the first company in the USA to produce so-called LFP batteries. This week, Ford management announced the suspension of work on the project.
In an interview Local media A company spokesman said Ford has suspended construction of the Michigan plant and limited investment in the project “for a number of unspecified reasons.” It is reported that the manufacturer will not resume work on the project until it is convinced that it can provide the company with conditions for competitive operation. Let us recall that Ford initially wanted to invest $ 3.5 billion in building the company and in the future wanted to start producing traction batteries at its plants in order to equip up to 400,000 electric vehicles annually. The company planned to employ up to 2,500 people.
It’s difficult to say exactly what factors influenced Ford’s unexpected decision. The company already uses LFP batteries to equip younger versions of the Mustang Mach-E crossover, but is forced to import them from China. Starting next year, such traction batteries will be installed in Ford F-150 Lightning electric pickup trucks. A facility in Michigan would allow production of these low-cost traction batteries to begin in the United States. At the same time, CATL would not participate in this project in any way in the sense of an equity investment and would only provide the technology on a license basis. Perhaps in the current geopolitical conditions, such a scheme of interaction with a Chinese supplier still did not seem very reliable to Ford management, and now the company is considering options for implementing a project to localize battery production in the USA without such risks. However, a final decision on the fate of the Michigan plant has not yet been made, according to Ford representatives.