Ford announces the upcoming construction of a new factory in Michigan, which will be dedicated entirely to the manufacture of batteries for its electric cars. To do this, the American firm is allied with the Chinese giant CATL and plans an investment of 3,500 million dollars. All this with a very specific objective in mind.
Like all manufacturers, Ford will have to accelerate its electrification. And it is not for less, the European Parliament has just voted in favor of prohibiting the sale of thermal cars in the Old Continent from 2035. But for now, the American firm only has two electric models, specifically the Mustang Mach -E and the F-. 150 Lightning. If other developments are foreseen in the future, you also want to focus on another activity, which will also benefit your customers.
a new factory
In fact, Ford advertises in a release his project to build a brand new factory that this time will not be dedicated to the assembly of automobiles, but to battery manufacturing. Next, she will settle in the State of Michigan, and more specifically in the city of Marshall. So, represents an investment of 3,500 million dollars for the brand, which will not be alone in this project.
It has partnered with the Chinese giant CATL (world number 1 in batteries), which has also just started production of its batteries in Europe. An announcement that comes a few months after Ford had already raised the idea of setting up a cell phone manufacturing site in the United States, without specifying whether or not it would use a partner. A well-known election, and that in reality was not unanimous.
how to explain le figaroThe Republican governor of Virginia, Glenn Youngkin, had refused to let Ford not build his factory on his territory, due to his connections with the Chinese company. A distrust that is also found in Europe to a lesser extent, while specialists also fear the development of Asian brands here. According to the manufacturer, the site will be operational in 2026 and would produce 35 GWh per year of lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) batteries. Batteries completely free of cobalt.
This could power the equivalent of 400,000 cars. These will support the NCM (nickel-cobalt-manganese) cells currently fitted to the Ford Mustang Mach-E, the price of which was recently reduced a few weeks ago. A small fall only reserved for the United States in response to the one operated by Tesla in its Model 3 and Model Y.
A benefit for customers?
Thus, these new LFP batteries will equip Mach-E and F-150 sold in the United States starting next year. Its advantage is to dispense with nickel and cobalt and also its production cost is lower. It is possible to leave them 100% charged without reducing their useful life, which is longer than NMC batteries. Recharging LFP batteries is potentially faster than their lithium-containing counterparts.
On the other hand, its energy density is less good than that of the NCM, which means a higher weight for the same battery capacity, and therefore slightly higher fuel consumption. Ford also advertises that LFP batteries are a bit more sensitive to cold.
Can we therefore expect a price drop at Ford? Not at first glance, while the brand prefers to increase its profits. However, it plans to reduce the size of its batteries, thus reducing production costs. However, on the occasion of this announcement, Ford specifies that the LFP batteries will allow ” contain or even reduce the prices of electric cars for customers« .
However, this new plant could indirectly benefit customers. As ? Thanks to tax credit up to $7,500 awarded by the US government. But to be eligible, the car must be assembled in the United States, although parts can come from anywhere in the world. But from 2023, battery must also be obtained locally.
This means that it will also have to be manufactured on site, while materials must be sourced locally or in countries that are not considered “of interest”. If the list hasn’t been revealed, China probably should be on it. Therefore, Ford will probably bet on lithium deposits from other places, like India, for example. Another solution will be the rise of the sodium battery, which uses no lithium at all.
Manufacturers will also have to focus on recycling batteries to reduce needs. Volkswagen, for example, wants to recycle its batteries infinitely, while Tesla already reuses 92% of the materials it uses in its batteries. As a reminder, Ford is also working on the development of an entire electric range, with the launch in 2025 of an electric Puma and the upcoming arrival of a brand new SUV based on the Volkswagen group’s MEB platform.
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