Ford’s electric vehicle division is ready to go all-in on batteries.
This week, the automaker announced it will open Ford Ion Park, a “global battery center of excellence” (their words, not ours) in Southeast Michigan that’s focused on battery cell design and manufacturing. Also part of the announcement: a $185 million collaborative learning lab focusing on R&D for the next generation of batteries, including solid-state.
Why this is big: Batteries require a lot of upfront investment in R&D, factories, and equipment, so up until now, Ford has been working with external suppliers.
Right now, battery manufacturing is largely based in Asia (think SK Innovation, Panasonic, and LG Chem), so Ford is an early adopter of US-based vertical production. GM and LG Chem are also spending $2+ billion on a second EV battery plant, in Tennessee.
Big picture: The global chip shortage has highlighted the need to shore up long-term supply chain issues—and for the EV industry, bringing battery manufacturing in-house and stateside is one way to do that.
- “The US needs to incentivize battery development, manufacturing, and production in the US to reduce the country’s reliance on foreign suppliers,” Asad Hussain, mobility analyst at PitchBook, told us.
+ While we’re here: Expect market consolidation, too. Hussain added: “As companies like Ford begin vertically integrating their battery supply chains, it will increasingly make sense for them to acquire some of the startups developing next-generation and solid state batteries.” —HF