By Joseph White
DETROIT (Reuters) – Ford will scale back the investment, capacity and the number of jobs planned for an electric vehicle (EV) battery plant in Michigan that has drawn fire from U.S. lawmakers for its use of technology supplied by Chinese battery maker CATL, the automaker said on Tuesday.
Ford said it would restart construction of the factory near Marshall, Michigan, after being paused two months ago.
The automaker plans to start producing low-cost lithium-iron batteries by 2026 based on technology licensed from CATL. Ford will own the factory, and has agreed to give the United Auto Workers the opportunity to organize the plant’s workers without a vote.
The company’s ties with CATL have drawn fire from U.S. lawmakers, who oppose the country’s EV subsidies flowing to a Chinese entity.
Ford is pushing for the U.S. Treasury Department to approve lithium-iron, or LFP, batteries made at the Michigan factory to qualify for Inflation Reduction Act EV subsidies. Ford is already using imported LFP batteries in its Mustang Mach-E electric SUV.
“We are confident in terms of IRA benefits,” Ford spokesman Mark Truby told reporters in a teleconference on Tuesday.
Ford said it was scaling back its original plans to spend $3.5 billion to make the Blue Oval Battery Park Michigan big enough to produce 35 gigawatt hours of batteries annually and employ about 2,500 people.
Ford now plans to cut the Michigan battery plant’s capacity to 20 gigawatt hours and reduce hiring to 1,700 jobs.
Ford’s capital investment will be reduced as well, Truby said, without giving an exact figure. He indicated the total investment will be proportional to the 40% reduction in capacity. That indicates a new price tag of about $2 billion.
Ford said in October that it would cut future electric vehicle investments overall by $12 billion compared to previous plans. The company has previously postponed construction of a battery factory in Kentucky and another in Turkey.
(Reporting By Joe White; Editing by Anil D’Silva)