South Africa

Ford is accelerating its EV battery development

Ford is accelerating its EV battery development

Ford Motor Co on Tuesday took a fresh step toward taking control of electric vehicle battery design and production, saying it would establish a centre in Michigan, US, to research and build prototype lithium ion and solid-state cells.

Ford CEO Jim Farley signaled last November that the Michigan-based automaker was considering designing and producing its own batteries, following rivals Tesla Inc and General Motors Co. Ford officials did not confirm a battery production plan, but left the door open for such a move.

"We now see the market is going to develop very quickly and we will have sufficient scale to justify greater levels of integration," said Ford's chief product platforms and operations officer Hau Thai-Tang.

The supply chain disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the more recent shortages of semiconductors have "heightened the importance of controlling the supply chain", Thai-Tang said.

Ford expects to continue working with battery makers, including South Korea's SK Innovation Co, a supplier for Ford's electric F-150 pickup and other models, Thai-Tang said. But the company wants "flexibility and optionality to eventually vertically integrate".

Ford plans to invest $185m (roughly R2,663,533,800) in battery development and prototype manufacturing operations in an operation with 150 employees to be called Ford Ion Park, it said. The centre will open late next year.