September 26

Ford halts work on $3.5 billion EV battery plant in Michigan


Ford Motor Co. said it has stopped construction of its $3.5 billion electric vehicle battery plant in Marshall.

“We’re pausing work and limiting spending on construction on the Marshall project until we’re confident about our ability to competitively operate the plant,” Ford spokesperson T.R. Reid told Automotive News on Monday. “We haven’t made any final decision about the planned investment there.”

The stoppage was first reported Monday by The Detroit News.

Ford in February revealed plans for the site, which is to be known as BlueOval Battery Park Michigan. It was originally expected to open in 2026 as a wholly owned Ford subsidiary using technology from Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd., based in China.

It was not immediately clear what, if any, impact the pause would have on Ford’s ability to source batteries for future EVs. Reid said the Dearborn-based automaker remained committed to being an EV leader.

The plant is slated to employ 2,500 workers and have the capacity to build 35 gigawatt-hours of lithium iron phosphate cells a year, which is enough to power about 400,000 EVs, Ford said. The automaker, which announced it would partner with CATL last July, said lithium iron phosphate chemistry will help it increase production of EVs and make them cheaper to build.

Republican lawmakers later investigated the deal, scrutinizing issues around American jobs, technology-sharing and links to forced labor.

The Marshall plant was approved for $1.7 billion worth of incentives, including a $210 million Critical Industry Program grant to Ford, a Renaissance Zone tax exemption worth $772 million over 15 years, $630 million for MDOT and the Marshall Area Economic Development Alliance, and $120 million for other site prep work.

Ford’s announcement Monday comes as the automaker is in the midst of national contract talks with the United Auto Workers union, which wants to represent workers at battery factories and win them top wages. The UAW is on strike against Ford, General Motors Co. and Stellantis NV. Earlier Monday, the UAW said talks with Ford were “very active.” The union spared Ford on Friday when it walked out of 38 additional GM and Stellantis facilities.

In a statement, UAW President Shawn Fain called Monday’s move “a shameful, barely-veiled threat by Ford to cut jobs” at a plant that’s not open yet.

“We are simply asking for a just transition to electric vehicles, and Ford is instead doubling down on their race to the bottom” with lower wages, he said.

Local economic development leaders and the governor’s office expressed hope that the pause could be resolved once UAW negotiations are complete.

“We are aware of the current pause on work and we remain confident of the enormous potential of Ford’s BlueOval Battery Park project to create local opportunities and thousands of local jobs,” Jim Durian, CEO of the Marshall Area Economic Development Alliance, said in a statement. “We hope current negotiations between Ford and the UAW conclude in a mutually beneficial manner and we remain confident this project will continue as planned once these negotiations are complete.”

A statement from the governor’s office read: “Michigan is home to world-class automakers whose iconic vehicles are built by the best auto workers in the world – and the governor is committed to keeping it that way. That’s why we’ve been aggressively pursuing deals that support working men and women, while also bringing supply chains back home from overseas for the first time and securing record-breaking investment that will guarantee jobs for decades. Ford has been clear that this is a pause, and we hope negotiations between the Big 3 and UAW will be successful so that Michiganders can get back to work doing what they do best.”


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The post Ford halts work on $3.5 billion EV battery plant in Michigan appeared first on Energy News Beat.



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