Ford Motor Company, known for its expertise in the automotive industry, announced on Monday that it will invest $3.5 billion in a new lithium iron phosphate battery plant for electric vehicles in southwest Michigan.
The factory, which will be near Marshall, a rural town about 100 miles west of Detroit, plans to use technology and support from a Chinese manufacturer, which has sparked controversy because of recent tensions with China.
Ford said that although it will use services from the Chinese company, Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd (CATL), the American automotive company will have control over the entire operation.
"Ford has control — control over the manufacturing, control over the production, control over the workforce," said Lisa Drake, Ford's vice president of electric vehicle industrialization. The company also announced that it will create a wholly-owned subsidiary to manage it.
The plant, which will open in 2026, is expected to generate around 2,500 well-paying jobs and it will produce enough batteries to power around 400,000 electric vehicles per year.
Today @Ford is announcing a $3.5B investment to build the first automaker-backed LFP battery plant in the U.S. bringing 2,500 jobs to Michigan. Good for America and our customers! All part of our $50B+ plan to innovate & lead the EV revolution. #BuiltForAmerica #BuiltFordProud pic.twitter.com/TgdcRX9jqw
— Jim Farley (@jimfarley98) February 13, 2023
"A trojan horse"
In January, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin received a request for the plant to be built in his state, but rejected it on national security grounds.
Youngkin explained that in his opinion Ford's agreement with its Chinese partner is a kind of "trojan horse," since it will enable the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to have access to U.S. technology.
"We felt that the right thing to do was to not recruit Ford as a front for China to America (...) CATL definitely seems like it’s the concept and creation of a master plan," he said adding that he preferred to have a "clean" agreement that didn't come with so much controversy.