Ford turns to China, other foreign companies to increase EV production, but it could cost 8,000 US jobs

Ford Motor Co. announced on Thursday it has leveraged global relationships to secure enough hours of annual battery capacity to build electric vehicles at a rate of 600,000 per year by late 2023 and as high as 2 million by 2026.

A development that reportedly may include the layoff of up to 8,000 employees from business operations related to internal-combustion products.

Chief among those relationships is an agreement with a Chinese battery maker, Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL), with the American automaker saying the company “will provide full LFP battery packs for Mustang Mach-E models for North America starting next year as well as F-150 Lightnings in early 2024.” CATL is the world’s largest manufacturer of lithium-ion batteries, according to Bloomberg, controlling more than 35% of the world’s market share.

Amid the push to move away from fossil fuels, Communist China has positioned itself to capitalize on the West’s quest for renewable energy, be it highly expensive batteries for automobiles, solar panels or wind turbines for turning wind energy into electricity — China leads the world in the production of solar panels and 6 of the 10 top wind turbine manufacturers in the world are located in China, according to BizVibe.

“Ford’s new electric vehicle lineup has generated huge enthusiasm and demand, and now we are putting the industrial system in place to scale quickly,” Ford CEO Jim Farley said in a statement. “Our Model e team has moved with speed, focus and creativity to secure the battery capacity and raw materials we need to deliver breakthrough EVs for millions of customers.”

Describing electric vehicles as “high-demand products,” Ford said it “expects compound annual growth rate for EVs to top 90% through 2026.”

The automaker said it plans to invest over $50 billion in EVs through 2026, creating a new EV supply chain to uphold its commitments to sustainability and human rights while planning “for more than half its global production to be EVs by 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality globally no later than 2050.”

Ford split into two divisions in March. Ford Blue will continue building traditional combustion engine automobiles, and Ford Model e will produce electric vehicles only — Ford Model e plans to build 270,000 Mustang Mach-Es, 150,000 F-150 Lightnings, 150,000 Transit EVs, and 30,000 SUV units by 2023. But Bloomberg reported that as many as 8,000 jobs may be cut from Ford Blue to cut $3 billion in operational costs to help fund the investment.

“This is our opportunity to win a whole new group of customers, building their loyalty and advocacy as we grow our market share,” Ford Model e chief customer officer Marin Gjaja said in the release. “We’re developing the digital and physical services and experiences those new customers expect when they purchase a product that to them is a new technology purchase. Our aim is to combine the convenience of digital shopping with Ford’s expertise, scale and the physical presence of our dealers to create the best possible experience for tomorrow’s EV owners.”

To meet the demand, Ford said it was also leveraging its long-standing connection with LG Energy Solution (LGES), with the long-time supplier having doubled its capacity at its Wroclaw, Poland, facility to support incremental NCM cell production for Mustang Mach-E and E-Transit models. Ford will also rely in its “strategic relationship with SK On to meet its battery capacity target.

“SK On has installed capacity to support the scaling of Ford’s high-volume F-150 Lightning and E-Transits through late 2023 – scaling NCM cell production beyond earlier-planned levels from its Atlanta facility and providing new battery cell capacity from its Hungary operation,” Ford said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was highly complimentary of Ford Motor Co. for opening a battery plant in his state.

“I applaud Ford for their decision to bring their new battery plants to Hardin County, which will provide a much-needed economic boost to the region and create thousands of well-paying Kentucky jobs,” McConnell said in September, according to WYMT. “With Ford’s commitment, we have further solidified our role as a world-class automotive state on the cutting edge of research and development. I look forward to continuing to pursue pro-business policies in Kentucky and nationwide that will allow great American companies like Ford to continue to prosper and grow our economy.”

“We thank Ford Motor Co. and SK Innovation for their investment in Team Kentucky,” Gov. Andy Beshear said. “This is the single largest investment in the history of our state, and this project solidifies our leadership role in the future of the automotive manufacturing industry.”


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