Ford to open new EV battery research centre in southeastern Michigan

The US$185-million-dollar investment is just part of the US$22 billion Ford has committed to spend on EVs

A Ford logo on the grill of a 2018 Ford Explorer on display at the Pittsburgh Auto Show. 

Ford, like its cross-town rival General Motors, is rapidly converting its research, engineering, and manufacturing to the production of electric vehicles. It's earmarked US$22 million dollars for the rollout of a slew of EVs by 2025 and has promised all the cars it sells in Europe will be EVs as early as 2030.

The company is building a new billion-dollar EV manufacturing plant in Cologne, Germany, and will soon start delivering Mustang Mach-Es to Chinese customers from local manufacturing plants.

"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," said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford's chief product platform and operations officer. "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."

A further part of commitment is the commissioning of a new battery research and development facility in southeastern Michigan that will focus completely on the development of new battery technologies, ranging from different lithium-ion chemistries; to yet-more-efficient solid-state power sources. According to Ford, the 200,000-square-foot facility will employ at least 150 engineers, procurement officers, and financial analysts.

The new Ion Park "global battery centre of excellence" will not, at least initially, build new batteries, but rather research their chemistries and battery management algorithms so Ford can best utilize the cells provided by outside suppliers such as SK Innovations and LG Chem.

The company remains reticent to start producing battery cells itself, citing the example of one of its competitors -- the spokespeople were trying very, very hard to not say "Toyota" -- which committed to ni-cad technology for its hybrids, but was caught a little flat-footed by the rapid progress to li-ion.

The new US$185-million Ion Park R&D centre is to open at the end of 2021.

Source: O Canada

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