Why Ford spending US$185 million to build EV battery lab in Michigan

DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. said Tuesday it’s investing $185 million (all figures in USD) in a research lab for electric vehicle battery development as it moves closer to manufacturing its own cells.

Called Ford Ion Park, the 200,000-square-foot facility in southeast Michigan will have 150 employees and be capable of designing and manufacturing battery electrodes, cells and arrays at the pilot level. It’s planned to open by the end of 2022.

“We’re already scaling production of all-electric vehicles around the world as more customers experience and crave the fun-to-drive benefits of electric vehicles with zero emissions,” Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s chief product platform and operations officer, said in a statement. “Investing in more battery R&D ultimately will help us speed the process to deliver more, even better, lower cost EVs for customers over time.”

The plans for the battery lab follow CEO Jim Farley’s comments last week in an Automotive News World Congress interview that Ford will need “lots of battery plants” as it ramps up production of EVs.

“In the first inning, you could buy batteries and you could cherry-pick the technology, energy density and cost from multiple sources,” Farley said in the interview. “We’re in the second inning now. The volumes are going to grow. We’ve committed $22 billion to converting the factories and engineering the new products. The next thing is going to be allocating the cost of batteries. Our $22 billion does not include any resources for batteries. So you can imagine and you can expect from Ford lots of announcements.”

Ford said the $185 million investment in Ion Park is incremental to the $22 billion commitment.

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