Ford Motor Company and South Korea’s SK Innovation are planning to spend $11.4 billion to build three battery plants and an assembly plant for F-Class electric pickup trucks in Tennessee and Kentucky, the largest investment in the US automaker’s history.
The two companies said on Monday that the project will create two large sites for the production of electric cars and batteries to power them, employing nearly 11,000 workers. Ford will spend $7 billion, while battery partner SK will spend $4.4 billion, and production is expected to launch in 2025.
These projects are part of Ford’s plan, founded in 1903, to invest $30 billion in electric cars By 2025, to become a player in a market dominated by Tesla. It also challenges General Motors as a leader in the traditional auto industry.
Since becoming CEO of Ford a year ago, Jim Farley has accelerated efforts to transition to an all-electric future, securing approval from US President Joe Biden for the electric F-150 and establishing a battery joint venture with SK.
The proposed site for the project in Tennessee is expected to be six square miles, three times the size of the historic “Rouge Complex” that Henry Ford built in Michigan a century ago.
It will include a battery plant with about 2,500 workers and an assembly plant with 3,300 employees, which will produce an electric version of the larger Ford F-Class pickup, its most profitable product.
In Kentucky, where Ford already has truck and SUV plants, the automaker and SK will build two battery plants that will employ about 5,000 workers. Ford said the three battery plants will have the capacity to produce energy sources for more than one million electric vehicles annually.
The big investment comes on the heels of Ford’s move this month to double production at the Michigan plant that builds the F-150 Lightning electric truck that will go on sale next year. The company says it already has 150,000 reservations for the truck.
It has also started selling the traditional petrol-powered version of its futuristic electric Mustang Matche E car.
The company said the Stanton, Tennessee F-Series plant will be the first all-new assembly plant Ford has built since 1969.
In order to have the two largest economic development projects ever, Tennessee and Kentucky offered incentives to Ford and SK. Tennessee has provided $500 million, pending a special session of the state legislature to approve the deal. Kentucky is offering a revocable loan of $250 million, and $36 million in training funds, infrastructure improvements, and a 1,551-acre site in Glendale, south of Louisville.
Farley, along with Ford Chairman Bill Ford, and senior executives from Seoul-based SK Innovation, will visit both states Tuesday for the official announcement.
“This is a transformative moment as Ford will lead America’s transition to electric vehicles,” Ford, the great-grandson of Henry Ford, said in a statement.
Since Farley announced his plans in May to increase Ford spending on electric vehicles by a third, the company has become more optimistic about the speed with which the battery-powered vehicle market will develop.
The new plants, along with a battery plant in Georgia, will give Ford 141 gigawatt-hours of battery supply, the company said, meeting Ford’s goal for demand in North America today, which is to have 40% of its sales electric by 2030.