Ford has announced that it is spending $11.4 billion on a new assembly plant for making electric F-Series trucks, as well as three separate gigawatt factories. The factories are part of a joint venture with SK Innovation. This will allow Ford to make its own batteries for electric vehicles in Tennessee and Kentucky. This is the largest single manufacturing investment Ford has ever made over its 118 years of business. Ford is contributing $7 billion of the $11.4 billion, with SK Innovations investing the remainder. This investment shows Ford is not only committed to electric vehicles for the long term but wants to get out ahead of the competition in the short term.
Ford is investing $11.4 billion in electric F-Series
According to the chief operating officer for North America Lisa Drake, one-third of Ford F-Series sales are expected to be electric by 2030. That implies all F-Series trucks are going to go electric at some point, from heavy-duty to Raptor. The Ford Lightning can tow 10,000 pounds, so what’s an electric version of the F-350 going to do? We’re looking forward to finding out. Ford is investing $11.4 billion in electric vehicle manufacturing, but what makes it confident enough to make that commitment?
Speaking of the Ford Lightning, it might be the reason why Ford is willing to commit this much money to go electric. The Ford Lightning doesn’t go on sale until Spring 2022 and already has 150,000 reservations. That kind of demand doesn’t go unnoticed by any automaker. Ford doesn’t want to run into more backups as they have with the Bronco, so creating new assembly plants will help keep up with production. The Ford Lightning is understandably desirable, given that the F-150 is already one of the most popular trucks in America. Add onto that more horsepower and an electric motor, and you have America’s favorite vehicle of the future.
Tennessee mega campus
Ford is building a nearly six square mile production campus in Stanton, Tennessee that will have 6,000 employees. It’ll cost $5.6 billion to build and will have an assembly plant for F-Series electric trucks. From the F-150 Lightning to heavy-duty electric trucks of the future, this massive campus will be the production location. The plant is named Blue Oval City and will begin producing electric trucks in 2025, according to Lisa Drake.
This same campus will also be the home of a BlueOvalSK battery manufacturing plant with a capacity of 43 GWh per year. It will go into production the same year as the trucks, which is very important. Building the batteries in the same location as the trucks will help assembly, reduce costs, and help keep up with reservations. The battery is by far the most expensive part of an electric vehicle, so not needing to pay a third party to supply them is a useful investment. Redwood Materials will also be on-site at this location to help Ford recycle, repurpose, and remanufacture battery cells.
Ford is investing $5.8 billion in Kentucky battery plants
On top of the battery production plant located at the Tennessee mega campus for F-Series assembly, Kentucky is getting two. One will be producing batteries by 2025 along with the Tennessee location, and the other will take until 2026 to be ready. These locations will have a combined 5,000 employees, proving them to be much smaller than the Tennessee location. The battery plants will cost $5.8 billion and will be located in Glendale, Kentucky.
According to Lisa Drake, the three plants combined will provide a total of 129 GWh of capacity, enough to power more than 1 million electric vehicles. That is a lot of vehicles, so could Ford end up producing batteries for other automakers as well? Ford may sell enough electric units of its own to need every battery it produces, but it’s certainly a possibility. If another automaker doesn’t want to make an $11.4 billion investment, Ford could be the answer. It is not uncommon for an automaker to pay a competing one to produce a vehicle or something else for their lineup. Ford is investing $11.4 billion in its own product, but it could become a battery side-business as well.
Ford technical training center
The automaker has also committed $90 million to build a training facility in Texas. This is specifically to help its dealership employees learn how to service, maintain, and handle electric vehicles. Since so many are coming in the future but are still a fairly new concept, many employees aren’t experts. Lisa Drake said the dealerships will need technicians who understand the software and how to update the vehicles. This commitment means future automotive technicians will undoubtedly require electric vehicle training from this (or another) facility.
Lisa Drake also told MotorTrend that Kentucky and Tennessee were strategically chosen as the location of these plants because of their resources. Affordable land, sustainable energy sources like solar, geothermal, wind power, and water are very available. Not to mention, the locations are in close proximity to currently operating Ford facilities. Ford’s plan to completely get rid of gasoline-powered engines by 2035 starts with this announcement. The chairman of Ford and Henry Ford’s great-grandson Bill Ford Jr. told NBC, “it’s a bet that I’d make any day of the week” when asked about the colossal investment. That’s why Ford is investing $11.4 billion in electric F-Series and battery plants.