Ford is expected to announce today a new LFP battery factory in the US in partnership with China’s CATL.
The automaker has called a press conference this afternoon where it is expected to give an update on how it plans to scale its electric vehicle business.
As part of the announcement, it is now expected that Ford will announce a new factory in Michigan in partnership with CATL to manufacture iron phosphate battery cells (via Seeking Alpha):
The update could also include more detailed information on Ford’s electric battery plans. Some reports indicate that the automaker could confirm a partnership with China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology to build a $3.5B iron phosphate battery plant in Michigan.
The project has been rumored since December, but it appears about to be made official.
Ford already has an extensive partnership with Korea’s SK Innovation for battery factories in the US to support its electric vehicle plans.
However, a new partnership with CATL would enable Ford to secure more iron phosphate (LFP) battery cells.
Iron phosphate (LFP) batteries, which don’t use nickel or cobalt, are traditionally cheaper and safer, but they offer less energy density, which means less efficiency and shorter range for electric vehicles. Lately, they have improved enough that it now makes sense to use cobalt-free batteries in lower-end and shorter-range electric vehicles. It also frees up the production of battery cells with other, more energy-dense chemistries to produce longer-range vehicles.
Tesla was early in recognizing this fact and started adopting the chemistry for its shorter-range electric vehicles. Around half of Tesla’s vehicles produced were equipped with LFP battery cells as of last year.
Last year, Ford announced that it secured 60 GWh of battery supply to achieve the production of 600,000 electric vehicles, and the announcement included a deal with CATL for LFP cells. The automaker indicated that it would introduce versions of the Mustang Mach-E and F150 Lightning with LFP cells.
CATL dominates LFP production, but it is almost entirely located in China. It is also Tesla’s LFP cell supplier.
A deal with Ford to bring large-scale LFP battery manufacturing to the US would be a major development for the North American electric vehicle market.