Ford plans $ 11 billion investment in electric pickup truck with battery maker SK

Ford Motor Co Updates

Ford Motor has plans to establish the industrial backbone of its emerging electric pickup truck business, pledging to spend $ 11 billion alongside South Korean SK Innovation to build three battery and vehicle supply factories.

Units in the US states of Kentucky and Tennessee reportedly employ nearly 11,000 workers to produce battery-powered versions of Ford’s popular F-series trucks.

The automaker’s share of planned spending, $ 7 billion, would be the largest investment Ford has made in manufacturing facilities in its 118-year history and totals just under a quarter of the $ 30 billion it has made. Ford has made a commitment to focus on electrifying its fleet by 2025..

Ford and its rivals General Motors and Stellantis stood alongside US President Joe Biden last month and pledged that between 40 and 50% of their vehicles sold would have zero emissions by the end of the decade. Biden called for electric vehicles to account for half of all sales by 2030 in a bid to reduce tailpipe emissions.

Lisa Drake, Ford’s chief operating officer for North America, said the company predicts that one-third of industry-wide pickup truck sales will be fully electric by 2030.

“This is a really crucial time for us in our country today,” she said. “We see critical mass for the transition to battery electric vehicles on the horizon,” she said.

With its investment, Ford is following GM, which is converting three factories to build electric vehicles and plans to open battery factories in Ohio and Tennessee. GM has pledged to spend $ 35 billion on electrification by 2025 as the auto industry moves away from internal combustion engines.

The dollars from Ford and battery maker SK Innovation will be split roughly evenly between the twin battery factories at a central Kentucky site and an assembly plant located on a 6 square mile “mega-campus” in the city. west Tennessee which would include suppliers and battery recycling operations.

The Tennessee plant, dubbed Blue Oval City – a reference to Ford’s elliptical logo – will build electric versions of the best-selling F-150 truck and its bigger cousins, the Super Duty models.

The F-150 with a traditional engine is currently manufactured by 4,200 hourly workers at the Dearborn Truck Plant, located in Ford’s historic industrial complex beside Michigan’s Red River.

Founder Henry Ford built the complex a century ago to vertically integrate the production of the company’s early vehicles. Ford has invested $ 950 million in the Rouge complex to build another new electric F-150 manufacturing plant.

The Tennessee campus will be three times the size of the Rouge complex, and Ford said it will employ around 6,000 people. Tennessee and Kentucky both have “right to work” laws, a union-weakening provision that allows workers to hold jobs with a unionized employer without paying union dues.

The United Auto Workers have traditionally organized American auto factories and many of their suppliers. The union fears the switch to electric vehicles could jeopardize the benefits auto workers have earned over decades.

John Savona, Ford’s vice president of manufacturing and labor, said the new factories “will have the option to choose if they organize themselves, and we respect and support their right to make that choice.”

Ford has received 150,000 reservations for the F-150 Lightning, including from customers who had never purchased a Ford or pickup before, Drake said.

“It reinforced the fact that we have the ability to build an already very powerful franchise,” she said.

The Blue Oval City, Tennessee plant will begin production in 2025, as will the first of two Kentucky battery plants, Ford said. The second plant in Kentucky will be commissioned a year later.

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