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Ford forms battery joint venture with SK Innovation
Ford and SK Innovation have signed an MoU to create a joint venture – to be called BlueOvalSK – to produce approximately 60 GWh annually in traction battery cells and array modules, starting mid-decade, with potential to expand.
"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,” says Jim Farley, Ford president and CEO in a press release. “We are delighted to be entering into collaboration with Ford, America’s leading and iconic automaker. Ford is one of the most active players in vehicle electrification today. We are proud to be opening this new chapter in their long history,” adds Kim Jun, SK Innovation CEO & President. “Our JV with Ford will play a pivotal role in fleshing out the electric vehicle value chain in the United States, a key objective of the current U.S. administration.” The creation of the JV is subject to definitive agreements, regulatory approvals and other conditions. Next-gen cells and arrays will be used to power several future Ford battery electric vehicles. Lisa Drake, Ford’s North America chief operating officer says that through the JV, Ford and SKI will jointly develop and industrialise battery cells at scale. These will be tailored to 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,” the COO says. Ford’s global BEV plan calls for at least 240 gigawatt hours (GWh) of battery cell capacity by 2030 – roughly 10 plants’ worth of capacity. Approximately 140 GWh will be required in North America, with the balance dedicated to other key regions, including Europe and China. SK already operates a battery plant in Commerce, Georgia, USA – serving two global OEMs – and is expanding its production capacity in the EU and China. SK Innovation plans to become one of the world’s top three EV battery suppliers by 2025 with over 125 GWh in global production capacity. Ford this year announced its commitment to invest at least USD 22 billion through 2025 to deliver connected, all-electric vehicles, building on its areas of strength, starting with EV versions of its most popular nameplates – including Mustang Mach-E, E-Transit and F-150 Lightning. To support its longer-term battery plans, Ford is investing in battery R&D. Last month, Ford announced a new global battery center of excellence – named Ford Ion Park – to accelerate its battery and battery cell technology R&D – including future battery manufacturing. The Ford Ion Park team already is underway. In addition, a USD 185 million collaborative learning lab in Southeast Michigan that is dedicated to developing, testing and building vehicle battery cells and cell arrays opens late next year. Earlier this month, Ford also announced it is growing its investment in Solid Power, a producer of all-solid-state batteries for EVs.