Last week, Ford announced that it was pausing construction at the BlueOval Battery Park Michigan site, which is slated to build lithium-iron phosphate batteries using licensed technology from CATL starting in 2025. This decision came amid an ongoing strike by the United Auto Workers (UAW) union, with the automaker noting that it hasn’t yet “made a final decision about the investment there” and that it’s “going to limit spending on construction at Marshall until we’re confident about our ability to competitively run the plant,” even after the site continues to rake in state funding. Regardless, Ford CEO Jim Farley later stated that the company still plans to utilize the future site for some sort of production regardless, and as such, it’s still being prepared for that purpose, according to the Detroit Free Press.
It is worth noting that Ford isn’t doing this work itself, but rather, site prep at the future BlueOval Battery Park Michigan facility is being completed by the construction company Walbridge, which won the contract to do so from the Marshall Area Economic Development Alliance, the local entity that works with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation on state-subsidized projects.
“To be clear, the Walbridge work on the site is continuing. Only the Ford component of work on the site has paused,” the Marshall Area Economic Development Alliance said in a statement. Ford spokesman T.R. Reid previously said that Ford has only completed a small amount of construction work on its part at the site thus far, and noted that this work had just begun very recently.
Ford’s agreement with the Michigan Strategic Fund and the $210 million in grant money it’s set to receive from the state does contain a stipulation that would require it to pay back that money if it stops construction at the site for more than 120 consecutive days, but according to Otie McKinely, a spokesman for the fund and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, this doesn’t apply to the automaker at the moment, as it has not yet received that grant money, nor has it begun hiring for the future plant.