Ford breaks ground on $5.6bn electric-vehicle plant

Detroit-based automaker expects half of its sales to be battery-powered vehicles by 2030

The 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT is displayed at the Chicago Auto Show. AFP
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Ford Motor Company began construction on its $5.6 billion electric-vehicle plant in the US state of Tennessee, its most advanced auto complex in the manufacturer's 119-year history.

The 15.5 square-kilometre complex, called BlueOval City, is expected to employ 6,000 workers by 2025 when production begins. The western Tennessee site will be used to produce a “revolutionary all-new electric truck” and batteries for future Ford and Lincoln vehicles.

Ford currently offers three EV models: the Mustang Mach-E crossover, F-150 Lightning pickup and E-Transit commercial van.

The company with headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan said the state-of-the-art complex would help it achieve its goal of a 2 million electric-vehicle production run rate worldwide by 2026.

“This facility is the blueprint for Ford’s future manufacturing facilities and will enable Ford to help lead America’s shift to electric vehicles,” said Eric Grubb, Ford’s director of new footprint construction.

Ford said it has already laid 370,000 tonnes of stone and installed more than 4,600 deep foundations at the site.

“Ford’s historic investment in west Tennessee is a testament to our state’s strong business climate and unmatched workforce,” governor Bill Lee said in a statement.

The car maker has already teamed up with South Korean battery manufacturer SK innovation to build two battery factories in Kentucky that will employ an additional 5,000 workers. Ford committed to spending $50 billion on electric vehicles through 2026 and chief executive Jim Farley said he expected more than half of the group's sales to be battery-powered vehicles by 2030.

Ford's battery-powered plans are part of an effort to challenge Elon Musk's Tesla in the electric-vehicle market. Tesla dominated electric-vehicle sales in 2021, where the total number of EVs sold in the US increased by 83 per cent in 2020.

Tesla sold roughly 193,000 Model Y vehicles and 108,000 Model 3 vehicles last year, automotive news outlet The Detroit Bureau tallied. The Ford Mustang Mach-E came in a distant third at 27,140 vehicles.

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Updated: September 23, 2022, 2:47 PM