Ford weighs adding US EV battery plant with China’s CATL

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It’s been a big year for Ford as the automaker’s electric vehicle rollout continues building momentum. Ford is now considering adding additional EV battery cell operations in the US. According to a new report, Ford is mulling an EV battery factory in the US with China’s CATL that includes a unique arrangement to collect tax benefits.

Ford mulls additional US EV battery capacity

Sources familiar with the matter tell Bloomberg Ford could select its home state of Michigan or Virginia. However, the arrangement wouldn’t be a typical one.

To take advantage of the new tax benefits provided by the Inflation Reduction Act, Ford would reportedly own 100% of the US facility. At the same time, CATL would run operations using its technology to build battery cells. The ownership structure would curb the strict domestic production requirements of the bill.

The IRA bill provides a significant tax credit for domestic EV battery cells, equating to $35 per kWh capacity. Meanwhile, battery packs produced in the US can earn a credit of up to $10 per kWh of power.

The new EV battery plant would supply lithium iron phosphate batteries to support Ford’s expected electric vehicle push in the coming years.

Ford said in July it had secured 70% of the required EV battery minerals to achieve its 2 million run rate target from 2026 after partnering with both SK Innovation and CATL. In addition, the automaker broke ground at its BlueOval SK Battery Park earlier this month, which is slated to play a key role in Ford’s EV ramp-up.

In November, Ford expanded its US electric vehicle market share by around 2%, maintaining its position as the number-two EV maker. Meanwhile, Ford’s CEO Jim Farley insists they are aiming for the top.

Ford added a third shift at its Rouge electric vehicle center in November to scale production of its highly demanded F-150 Lightning EV pickup and work through its massive backlog.

Electrek’s Take

To close the gap with current leader Tesla, building out a reliable EV supply chain will be critical for Ford and any automaker looking to scale production and compete in the new EV era.

That being said, I would expect more details of the deal between Ford and CATL to come to light soon. CATL just signed an agreement with Honda to supply 123 GWh of batteries to power well over 1 million electric vehicles to support its EV expansion.

As the race to claim EV market share heats up, automakers are rushing to lock up critical battery minerals. And with the tax benefits provided by the IRA bill, the US has become a hot spot for EV battery investments.

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