With global EV demand not quite growing at the pace automakers expected it to, Ford has chosen to downsize its investments in electrification at the under-construction BlueOval SK Battery Park Michigan and Kentucky sites, as well as cut its planned 2024 Ford F-150 Lightning production in half, all while Ford, Koc Holding, and LG Energy Solutions recently canceled plans to build a new EV battery plant in Turkey altogether. Now, LG – along with fellow Ford EV battery supplier SK On and another manufacturer, Samsung SDI – seem to be a bit skeptical on their ability to significantly ramp up production of lithium-iron phosphate (LFP) battery packs while turning a profit, according to Reuters.
All three of those Ford EV battery suppliers are reportedly concerned that they won’t be able to build LFP batteries at a competitive price, which is notable given the fact that those types of batteries have been touted as cheaper to produce than other types of units. Coupled with slower than expected EV demand and the potential that U.S. subsides for electric vehicles will change if current President Joe Biden loses the 2024 election, that development has given all three suppliers some new concerns as each works to develop a more affordable battery chemistry.
LFP batteries have long been touted as a potential solution to high costs in terms of raw materials, though battery makers face a number of challenges in bringing them to market en masse. Further compounding this issue are rules related to EV tax credits that limit the amount of China-based raw materials in batteries that are set to take effect next year, which will make many models ineligible for the credits – a list that includes the Ford Mustang Mach-E, which is available with an LFP battery in standard range form, though that unit is produced by China’s CATL. The Blue Oval also plans to offer an LFP battery pack in the Ford F-150 Lightning soon as well.
Regardless, LG, SK On, and Samsung SDI still intend to move forward with LFP battery development, though it’s clear that each must find a way to compete with China in terms of cost for those efforts to be successful. “While we are aware of the growing need for our own LFP battery production, we have to do it in a way that works for us and our clients, meaning we need to price LFP batteries competitively with Chinese products and we also need to make a profit,” an SK On executive told Reuters.