Ever since The Blue Oval announced that it planned to build a new EV battery plant in Marshall, Michigan some time ago – which will be formally known as BlueOval Battery Park Michigan – that site has been mired in controversy. Aside from local residents expressing concerns over the future plant, lawmakers are worried about the fact that Ford will license lithium-iron phosphate (LFP) battery technology from China-based CATL, prompting a probe into that deal that was recently expanded -this, in spite of pushback from Ford and even multiple trips by CEO Jim Farley to the White House. Now, shortly after FoMoCo announced that it was trimming back its planned output at the Michigan plant, a group of lawmakers is calling for a probe into four other companies involved in that same project, according to Reuters.
This request comes via a letter written by Representative Mike Gallagher – who chairs the select committee on China – and Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who chairs the Energy and Commerce Committee. It urges the Commerce Department to investigate four Chinese companies – which are unnamed as per confidentiality agreements – that they say are involved in BlueOval Battery Park Michigan’s “design, construction, and information technology (IT) processes.”
One of these companies is reportedly tasked with “the concept design” for the plant, though the same outfit reportedly provides engineering design services for China’s military as well. Additionally, another company providing IT tools for the project allegedly has ties to North Korea. “It is indefensible for Ford to use the same cloud integration and data provider that is linked to North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs sanctions evasion activity,” the letter said.
Ford responded to this request by noting that it follows “all government regulations across our business.” “Ford suppliers are required to meet our higher standards, including for protecting human rights, and obligated to extend those requirements to suppliers with whom they might work,” the automaker added.