DETROIT — Ford, in what it says is the largest single manufacturing investment in its 118-year history, on Monday said it would spend US$7 billion and create nearly 11,000 jobs to build electric vehicles and batteries in Tennessee and Kentucky.
The investment, meant to vault Ford among the leaders in EV output, will include a 3,600-acre "mega campus" northeast of Memphis called Blue Oval City that will include Ford's first new vehicle assembly plant in more than 50 years. The site — three times the size of the automaker's sprawling Rouge Complex in Michigan — will hire about 6,000 people to assemble next-generation electric F-Series pickups and include battery cell production and a supplier park, Ford said. It's expected to open in 2025.
South of Louisville, Ford will build a 1,500-acre battery park under its BlueOvalSK joint venture with battery supplier SK Innovation. The site will comprise two battery plants making advanced lithium ion batteries, with one opening in 2025 and the other in 2026. Ford said the Kentucky site will create 5,000 jobs.
SK Innovation is committing US$4.4 billion on the projects, bringing the total investment to US$11.4 billion, Ford said. Ford formed a partnership with SK Innovation in May after CEO Jim Farley reversed plans by his predecessor to buy batteries from outside suppliers, choosing to instead produce them in-house.
Ford said the two campuses will have annual battery production capacity of 129 gigawatt hours, which is enough to power 1 million EVs. The Tennessee battery plant will be dedicated to the next-generation F-Series, while the twin plants in Kentucky will make batteries for numerous Ford and Lincoln vehicles, the company said.
"This is a transformative moment where Ford will lead America's transition to electric vehicles and usher in a new era of clean, carbon-neutral manufacturing," Ford Executive Chair Bill Ford said in a statement. "With this investment and a spirit of innovation, we can achieve goals once thought mutually exclusive – protect our planet, build great electric vehicles Americans will love and contribute to our nation's prosperity."
The latest outlay is part of the US$30 billion that Ford has pledged to spend on electrification through 2025. Additionally, Ford said it's investing US$525 million, including US$90 million in Texas, to train dealership technicians in how to service EVs.
Ford says it expects 40 percent to 50 percent of its global sales to be full EVs by 2030.
"It's a huge deal for us," Lisa Drake, Ford's North America COO, told Automotive News. "We have been working on this, frankly, for about a year. To see it all come together the way it has is just beyond exciting."