Back in February, the latest Ford EV battery plant was announced – BlueOval Battery Park Michigan – as a site where the automaker plans to build lithium-iron phosphate (LFP) batteries using technology licensed from CATL. However, amid the UAW strike and weakened demand for EVs, Ford paused construction at the future plant in late September before announcing that it was planning on delaying or even canceling plans to invest around $12 billion in EVs – a development that included BlueOval Battery Park Michigan, putting its future squarely in doubt. As Ford Authority reported yesterday, the automaker just announced that it will proceed with its plans to erect this facility after all – albeit with fewer workers and less output – which has drawn some mixed reactions from locals in Marshall, according to WWMT.
Some of these responses, as one might imagine, were positive. “I was just excited to hear an answer, it’s been in limbo for some time,” said Marshall resident Andrew Scibbe. “1,700 jobs are better than zero jobs and continued investment in Marshall and bringing more people here.” Others, well, weren’t quite as upbeat. “I think we have said right from the beginning as a broader group that the [EV] demand wasn’t there, that there was a lot of competitors in the field,” said Glenn Kowalske of The Comittee for Marshall Not the Megasite. “It drives uncertainty in the total market.”
Originally, the Ford EV battery plant based in Michigan was slated to employ 2,500 people, with an annual output of 35 gigawatt hours, numbers that have since been reduced to 1,700 jobs and 20 GWh.. This announcement also comes on the heels of the automaker’s decision to only utilize one of two under-construction EV battery plants at the future BlueOval SK Battery Park in Kentucky and nix plans to build a joint-venture EV battery plant in Turkey, too.
BlueOval Battery Park Michigan has faced its fair share of criticism from lawmakers (and its chief rival, GM) concerned with CATL’s Chinese roots, as well as citizens in Marshall who are worried about the potential environmental impacts of such a facility. Regardless, Ford CEO Jim Farley has been adamant from the start that CATL is only licensing technology to the automaker and won’t have any other involvement in the plant.