Ford announces plans for two EV battery facilities

At the start of February, Ford committed $29 billion to electric and autonomous vehicle development through 2025. It’s following that investment up with a more physical display of its commitment to electrifying its lineup. In southeast Michigan, the company has established a battery development center called Ford Ion Park.

The facility will house a centralized multidisciplinary team of 150 individuals who are experts in areas like research, manufacturing and purchasing. The company says the team will help it develop EV batteries that cost less and offer greater range. Ford has tapped Anand Sankaran, its current director of electrified systems engineering, to lead the Ion Park team. Sankaran’s resume includes projects like the recent Mustang Mach-E and one of the automaker’s first foray into EVs, the 2001 Escape Hybrid.

“Investing in more battery R&D ultimately will help us speed the process to deliver more, even better, lower-cost EVs for customers over time,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s chief product platform and operations officer. “We are modernizing Ford’s battery development and manufacturing capabilities so we can better control costs and production variables in-house and scale production around the world with speed and quality.”

Ford will also spend $185 million to establish a collaborative lab dedicated to developing, testing and building EV batteries. The 200,000 square foot facility, set to open late next year, will house equipment for piloting new manufacturing techniques that will allow the company to quickly scale new battery technologies. To show it’s serious about these new initiatives, Ford’s Battery Benchmarking and Test Laboratory will support them. The automaker opened the $100 million, 185,000 square foot facility last year to trial new battery chemistries. Since opening its doors, the facility has tested and analyzed more than 150 different types of cells.

The two new facilities are a strong sign Ford has come to realize battery technology is critically important to a successful EV strategy. Tesla has stayed in front of the competition in no small part due to the range of its vehicles. And it looking to extend that lead with more affordable cells in next two to three years.

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