Ford Announces Massive EV Investments In Tennessee And Kentucky

Ford has announced that it will lead America’s shift to electric vehicles with two new massive investments in the U.S.

Together with its battery partner, SK Innovation, Ford will build manufacturing campuses – “mega-sites” – in Tennessee and Kentucky that will produce the next generation of electric F-Series trucks and the batteries (three gigafactories – total of 129 GWh annually) to power future electric Ford and Lincoln. Production will start in 2025.

The total investment is estimated at $11.4 billion ($7 billion directly from Ford) and will result in 11,000 jobs. The remaining $4.4 billion will come from SK Innovation, which is a joint venture partner in BlueOvalSK announced in May.

We estimate that the battery plants (43 GWh annually each) will cost about $2.9 billion each or $8.7-$8.8 billion total (shared 50/50 between Ford and SK Innovation).

Let’s get into the details of each site.

Blue Oval City in Tennessee

According to Ford, the Blue Oval City will be the largest, most advanced and most efficient auto production complex in its 118-year history. An important thing at this site will be vertical integration of production, starting with battery cells up to the final assembly of the vehicles.

The site will produce the next-generation electric F-Series pickups (beyond the Ford F-150 Lightning that will be produced at the Ford Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Michigan starting in early 2022), as well as lithium-ion batteries. The BlueOvalSK gigafactory will have a capacity of 43 GWh cells annually.

The investment is estimated at $5.6 billion total, while the number of jobs will reach 6,000. The cost of the battery gigafactory will be shared with SK Innovation, through the BlueOvalSK joint venture.

“Reimagining how electric vehicles – and the batteries that power them – are designed, manufactured and recycled, Ford is creating an all-new electric vehicle manufacturing ecosystem.”

“Blue Oval City will be among the largest auto manufacturing campuses in U.S. history. Like the iconic Rouge complex in Michigan did a century earlier, Blue Oval City will usher in a new era for American manufacturing.”

“The 3,600-acre campus covering nearly 6 square miles will encompass vehicle assembly, battery production and a supplier park in a vertically integrated system that delivers cost efficiency while minimizing the carbon footprint of the manufacturing process. The assembly plant will use always-on cloud-connected technologies to drive vast improvements in quality and productivity. The mega campus is designed to add more sustainability solutions, including the potential to use local renewable energy sources such as geothermal, solar and wind power.”

“Creating approximately 6,000 jobs, Blue Oval City will be a hive of technical innovation to build next-generation electric F-Series trucks. This growth opportunity will allow Ford to reach new customers with an expanded electric truck lineup.”

Ford does not reveal which F-Series trucks are coming (the lineup to be expanded by electric models), but at this scale, it might be the electrification of basically the entire lineup.

Ford: “This is our moment – our biggest investment ever”

Ford is not hiding excitement as they are going all-in into EVs right now with an expectation to achieve 40-50% of fully electric vehicles out of the overall volume globally by 2030.

This $7 billion investment ($11.4 billion, including $4.4 billion from SK Innovation) is part of Ford’s more-than-$30 billion investment in electric vehicles through 2025.

“Ford’s $7 billion portion of the $11.4 billion investment is the largest manufacturing investment in the company’s 118-year history.”

Smaller additional investments will be on America’s auto technician industry – Ford intends to spend $525 million (including $90 million in Texas) within the next five years to prepare the workforce.

“Ford is investing $90 million in Texas alone as part of a $525 million total investment across the U.S. during the next five years to transform America’s auto technician industry. The investment will go toward job training and career readiness initiatives for the current and next generation of technicians. These programs aim to develop highly skilled technicians and will support Ford’s growing portfolio of connected electric vehicles.”

Ford Executive Chair Bill Ford 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. 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.” 

Jim Farley, Ford president and CEO said:

“This is our moment – our biggest investment ever – to help build a better future for America. We are moving now to deliver breakthrough electric vehicles for the many rather than the few. It’s about creating good jobs that support American families, an ultra-efficient, carbon-neutral manufacturing system, and a growing business that delivers value for communities, dealers and shareholders.”

Dongseob Jee, president of battery business, SK Innovation said:

“We are proud to be partnering with Ford as they open a new chapter in automobile history. We are excited to be taking this decisive leap together, as partners, and to bring about our common vision for a cleaner planet. Our joint venture, BlueOvalSK, will embody this spirit of collaboration. We look forward to growing our trust-based partnership by delivering on our market-leading value proposition, experience and cutting-edge expertise.”

Ford Electrification Across the U.S. Map

BlueOvalSK in brief:

  • joint venture between Ford and SK Innovation (probably 50/50)
  • MoU announced on May 20, 2021
  • investment: initially announced about 6 trillion KRW ($5.3 billion)
    on September 27, 2021 increased to $5.8 billion (two plants in Kentucky) plus a plant in Tennessee (probably another $2.9 billion) – probably $8.7-$8.8 billion total
  • production output: initially announced about 60 GWh of battery cells and modules annually
    (with potential to expand)
    on September 27, 2021 increased to 129 GWh annually (three 43 GWh plants)
  • cell chemistry: probably “Nickel 9” (NCM battery that has 90% nickel content in cathode) as in SK’s battery plants in Commerce, Georgia
  • expected production start: 2025
  • location: one plant in Tennessee and two in Kentucky (each 43 GWh annually)
  • potential to expand into Europe

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