After unveiling the F-150 Lightning last night, Ford has announced a new venture with SK Innovation, a Korean gas firm that also work on energy supply, to build its automotive batteries in the United States. The two parties have signed a memorandum of understanding that, going forwards, they'll create a joint entity called BlueOvalSK (uniting, uhm, the Ford logo and SK) and will go into business to make 60 gigawatt hours of battery capacity annually starting mid-decade.
When it announced the F-150 Lightning, Ford said that a lot of its strategy to make electric vehicles profitable was to get control of the supply chain and make sure it can work at the scale of, well, Ford. This new commitment with SK Innovation is part of that plan, to work towards what Ford is anticipating will be 240GwH of global demand for its batteries by 2030.
Jim Farley, Ford president and CEO, says this is all part of how the automaker is taking its electric vehicle strategy forwards: "This MoU is just the start; it’s a key part of our plan to vertically integrate key capabilities that will differentiate Ford far into the future. We will not cede our future to anyone else.”
Most car companies are at least partially reliant on external companies to make their batteries, including Tesla, who partners with Panasonic. By moving to build its own gigafactory equivalents, Ford is following GM's Ultium drive in the U.S. and VW's announcement that it's going to criss-cross Europe with battery plants. VW is a good comparator, since it's also aiming for that assumed 240GwH output by 2030.
Lisa Drake, Ford's chief operating officer for North America, said that through the joint venture, "Ford and SKI will jointly develop and industrialize battery cells at scale that are tailored to deliver optimum performance and value for our Ford and Lincoln customers. SKI is an important partner in helping deliver batteries with better range and value for our fully electric vehicles by mid-decade.”
BlueOvalSK isn't fully created yet and requires some further approvals but this has been a heck of a week for Ford shouting its intentions when it comes to a BEV future.
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