Ford late Monday announced plans to spend $11.4 billion with a South Korean partner to build three major electric vehicle batter factories in Kentucky and Tennessee by 2025, plus a plant to build electric F-Series pickups at the Tennessee site. All together, the new factories will create an estimated 10,800 jobs, "mark the single largest manufacturing investment the 118-year-old company has ever made, and are among the largest factory outlays in the world," The Associated Press reports.
Ford and its battery cell partner, South Korea's SK Innovation, will officially announce the initiatives on Tuesday alongside the governors of Kentucky and Tennessee and United Auto Workers president Ray Curry.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) said Tuesday's event for the two battery factories in Glendale, about 50 south of Louisville, will be the largest single employment announcement in state history. The Glendale plants are expected to employ about 5,000 people, and Ford and SK Innovation are investing $5.8 billion in the sites. The batteries made there will power Ford and Lincoln EVs built in North America, Fords says.
The six-square-mile Tennessee battery and electric truck complex will be in Stanton, about 50 miles northeast of Memphis, and employ an estimated 6,000 people. Ford and SK Innovation are pumping $5.6 billion into the site, called Blue Oval City.
"I think the industry is on a fast road to electrification," Ford executive chairman William C. Ford Jr. told The New York Times. "And those who aren't are going to be left behind." Ford executives said they are doubling down on their bet on EVs after seeing strong interest in the F-150 Lightning, the electric version of America's best-selling vehicle, and the Mustang Mach-E electric SUV. The company said it now expects 40 percent to half of its vehicle sales to be electric by 2030.
Ford is hardly alone in charging toward an EV future. And while environmentalists and the Biden administration applaud the embrace of electric vehicles, the automakers are also all playing catch-up to Tesla, which is on track to sell more than 800,000 electric cars in 2021, the Times reports. "Tesla has become the most valuable automaker in the world by far, with a market capitalization of nearly $800 billion. Ford's market value is $56 billion."