Ford Motor and South Korea-Based SK Innovation Plan Kentucky and Tennessee Electric Battery Vehicle Plants
“It is a bold move and reflects the rapid shift to electrification that is occurring in the auto industry. I anticipate other automakers will be announcing their own plans,” commented Dennis Cuneo, owner of DC Strategic Advisors LLC, and partner at Fisher Phillips, LLP.
In Tennessee, the joint venture will invest $5.6 billion to build a 3,600-acre mega campus, called Blue Oval City, at the Memphis Regional Megasite, where production of next generation all-electric F-Series trucks will begin in 2025. The project will result in the creation of 5,800 new jobs in West Tennessee.
In Kentucky, Ford Motor Company and SK Innovation will invest $5.8 billion to build two electric battery plants in Hardin County at BlueOval SK Battery Park, which will create 5,000 new jobs. The two plants will manufacture advanced lithium-ion batteries for North American assembly plants making Ford and Lincoln electric vehicles. Production is expected to begin in 2025.
“Tennessee is playing a key role in leading American advanced manufacturing, and we are thrilled to make this historic investment in West Tennessee to create Blue Oval City,” said Lisa Drake, Ford North America chief operating officer. “This once in a generation investment will create thousands of high-quality jobs and support America’s transition to electric vehicles. Tennessee will play a critical role as Ford continues to lead the electric vehicle revolution, tackle climate change, and create the jobs of tomorrow, and we look forward to working to create the future together.”
Drake added, “Ford is (also) very excited to make this historic investment in the great state of Kentucky. Kentucky has been an incredible partner to Ford for more than 100 years and is home to Louisville Assembly Plant and Kentucky Truck Plant. With this announcement, Kentucky will play an essential role as Ford fulfills its commitment to lead the electric vehicle revolution and create thousands of jobs in the commonwealth, and we look forward to working with Kentuckians to create the future together.”
According to the automaker and SK Innovation, in Tennessee “Blue Oval City will be designed to be the largest, most advanced and most efficient automotive production campus in Ford’s history. The campus will include the Ford assembly plant, a supplier park, and a battery manufacturing plant operated by BlueOvalSK, Ford and SK Innovation’s joint venture. The site will become a vertically integrated ecosystem with key suppliers and battery manufacturing on the same campus where Ford will assemble next generation all-electric F-Series trucks.”
In addition to the multi-billion dollar investment from Ford, the state of Tennessee said it intends to offer an enhanced incentive totaling more than $500 million for successful completion of the project. Governor Bill Lee intends to call a special legislative session this fall to address funding, buildout, and oversight for the Memphis Regional Megasite.
“Today is a historic day as we welcome Ford Motor Company and SK Innovation to Tennessee,” said Tennessee Department of Economic Development (TNECD) Commissioner Bob Rolfe. “The ripple effect resulting from these projects will be transformational for our state, especially West Tennessee, and we are most grateful for this enormous investment and the addition of two top global brands. To have such a world renowned, American company land as our first tenant at the Memphis Regional Megasite underscores the site’s strength and potential for additional joint venture partners and suppliers.”
At their two Kentucky sites, Ford currently employs about 13,000 associates between the Louisville Assembly Plant and Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville. Ford Motor Corp. and its partner will build two battery manufacturing plants in Glendale in Hardin County that are expected to employ 5,000 people. Workers will produce batteries that will power new Ford and Lincoln electric cars, trucks, and SUVs. Production of the advanced lithium-ion batteries will start in 2025.
“We thank Ford Motor Co. and SK Innovation for their investment in Team Kentucky,” said Governor Andy Beshear. “This is the single largest investment in the history of our state, and this project solidifies our leadership role in the future of the automotive manufacturing industry. It will transform our economy, creating a better Kentucky with more opportunities for our families for generations. Our economy is on fire, and now, it’s electric. Never again will we be thought of as a flyover state. Our time is now. Our future is now.”
Also commenting on these announcements is Alexandra Segers, general manager of Tochi Advisors LLC. “This is the new era of the automotive industry. All automakers are committed to electrifying their vehicle lineup,” said Segers.
“A lot of battery capacity is required to support the roughly nine million vehicles that are manufactured in the U.S. annually. By 2030 perhaps 40% will be EVs. Those project announcements sound massive, but the two battery plants in Kentucky and Tennessee will together power only about one million vehicles,” she explains.
“Overall, Ford says this represents the single biggest manufacturing investment in the American automaker's 118-year history. Battery plants are expensive to construct. They require, for example, clean rooms and special filters,” Segers explains. “The investment is much higher compared to a standard assembly plant. We will see many more of those announcements and also the supply chain will change, and existing auto plants will be modified.”
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