Ford to build “Ion Park” in southeast Michigan for in-house battery cell production
Dearborn, Michigan-headquartered automobile giant Ford Motor Company has announced that it will build a global battery centre of excellence, dubbed Ford Ion Park, in southeast Michigan to develop and produce lithium-ion and solid-state battery cells for EVs. Taking its first step towards in-house battery cell production, the American auto giant revealed that it has set aside $185 million (€153 million) for the research centre that is expected to be up and running by the end of 2022.
At the Ford Ion Park, as many as 150 experts will contribute to the company’s ability to quickly scale battery cell designs with novel materials in the future. Various aspects of the value chain, from mining to recycling, will be optimized.
Hau Thai-Tang, chief product platform & operations officer for Ford, said that the decision to invest in more battery research & development (R&D) would ultimately help the company accelerate the process to deliver more as well as better EVs at lower costs.
Speaking on the topic, he said, “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. 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 planned Ford Ion Park facility will be headed by Anand Sankaran, who is currently serving the company as Director of Electrified Systems Engineering. Previously, he was assigned key roles in the development of the environment-friendly Ford Mustang Mach-E and the F-150 Hybrid vehicles, thanks to his strong experience in electric mobility. He has been with the auto giant for more than three decades.
Ford’s decision to build a global battery centre of excellence for developing and producing in-house battery cells marks a ‘U-turn’ in the company’s strategy. While many other automakers in the world, including General Motors (GM) and Volkswagen (VW), were announcing their plans for in-house battery cell production last year; Ford’s former chief executive Jim Hackett had declared in September last year that Ford wouldn’t build its own battery cells. But, new CEO Jim Farley took only a few months to change that decision. Thus far, Ford has relied on bought-in battery cells from different suppliers, with South Korea’s SK Innovation being one of them.