American car manufacturer Ford, who recently pulled its plug from the Indian market, plans big bang investments in electric vehicles. This means that the OEM is taking big decisions considering the automotive industry's evolution and investing accordingly.
With the company experiencing strong demand of late, coming for the all-new Ford F-150 Lightning truck, E-Transit and Mustang Mach-E electric vehicles, the idea to align its future to the emerging trend has become the company's top agenda. Eventually, it became the company’s recent announcement to expand production capacity and add jobs at the Ford Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Mich.
Investing $ 11.4 billion by the vehicle maker and its partner will lead to setting up an all-new mega campus in Stanton, Tennessee, called Blue Oval City (at an investment of $ 5.6 billion), which will reimagine how vehicles and batteries are manufactured. Besides, it will also create a dedicated battery manufacturing complex (at an investment of $ 5.8 billion) with SK Innovation BlueOvalSK Battery Park in central Kentucky.
Blue Oval City will become a vertically integrated ecosystem for Ford to assemble an expanded lineup of electric F-Series vehicles and include a BlueOvalSK battery plant, key suppliers and recycling. In addition, Ford’s new Tennessee assembly plant is designed to be carbon neutral with zero waste to landfill once fully operational.
The twin battery plants on the site are intended to supply the company’s North American assembly plants with locally assembled batteries for powering next-generation electric Ford and Lincoln vehicles. The plant will be capable of producing up to 43-gigawatt hours each for a total of 86 gigawatt hours annually. Investments in the new Tennessee and Kentucky battery plants are planned to be made via BlueOvalSK, a new joint venture formed by Ford and SK Innovation, subject to definitive agreements, regulatory approvals and other conditions.
According to Bill Ford, Executive Chair, Ford, this is a transformative moment where Ford will lead America’s transition to electric vehicles and usher in a new era of clean, carbon-neutral manufacturing. 'With this investment and a spirit of innovation, we can achieve goals once thought mutually exclusive – protect our planet, build great electric vehicles Americans will love and contribute to our nation’s prosperity,” he added.
Jim Farley, President & CEO, Ford, said, “We are moving now to deliver breakthrough electric vehicles for the many rather than the few. It’s about creating good jobs that support American families, an ultra-efficient, carbon-neutral manufacturing system, and a growing business that delivers value for communities, dealers and shareholders.”
According to Ford, the company's $7 billion investment is the largest ever manufacturing investment at one time by any automotive manufacturer in the US. Part of the company’s $ 30 billion investment in electric vehicles through 2025, this investment supports the company’s longer-term goal to create a sustainable American manufacturing ecosystem and to accelerate its progress towards achieving carbon neutrality, backed by science-based targets in line with the Paris Climate Agreement. Overall, it expects 40% to 50% of its global vehicle volume to be fully electric by 2030.
Blue Oval City will be among the largest auto manufacturing campuses in US history. Like the iconic Rouge complex in Michigan did a century earlier, Blue Oval City will usher in a new era for American manufacturing.
The 3,600-acre campus covering nearly six square miles will encompass vehicle assembly, battery production and a supplier park in a vertically integrated system that delivers cost efficiency while minimising the carbon footprint of the manufacturing process.
The assembly plant will use always-on cloud-connected technologies to drive vast improvements in quality and productivity. In addition, the mega campus is designed to add more sustainability solutions, including the potential to use local renewable energy sources such as geothermal, solar and wind power.
Blue Oval City will be a hive of technical innovation to build next-generation electric F-Series trucks. This growth opportunity will allow the company to reach new customers with an expanded electric truck lineup.
Kumar Galhotra, President, Americas & International Markets Group, Ford, said the Blue Oval City’s assembly plant will harness the company’s global manufacturing expertise and cutting-edge technologies to deliver cost efficiencies and the quality that the customers expect. It will enable the company to lead in the race to bring dependable, affordable and advanced electric vehicles to even more Americans.”
Bigger Assembly Plant, Smaller Environmental Impact
Despite its size, the assembly plant at Blue Oval City is designed to have as minimal impact as possible on the surrounding environment and generate positive impacts. The assembly plant’s goal is to have a regenerative impact on the local environment through biomimicry in the design of the facility. In addition, from the start of production in 2025, the goal is for the assembly plant to be carbon neutral.
Through an on-site wastewater treatment plant, the assembly plant aspires to make zero freshwater withdrawals for assembly processes by incorporating water reuse and recycling systems.
Zero-waste-to-landfill processes will capture materials and production scrap at an on-site materials collection centre to sort and route materials for recycling or processing either at the plant or off-site facilities once the plant is operational.
The vehicle manufacturer collaborates with Redwood Materials, a leading battery materials company, to make electric vehicles more sustainable and affordable by localising the supply chain network, creating recycling options for scrap and end-of-life vehicles, and ramping up lithium-ion recycling.
The American company is also investing $ 90 million in Texas as part of a $ 525 million total investment across the US during the next five years to transform the country's auto technician industry.
The investment will go towards job training and career readiness initiatives for the current and next-generation technicians. These programmes aim to develop highly skilled technicians and support the company's growing portfolio of connected electric vehicles.
Undoubtedly, these initiatives and investments will make Ford lead America’s Shift to electric vehicles in the years to come.