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Ford plans to build EV battery plant in Michigan with Chinese company

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(Bloomberg) — Plans by Ford Motor Co. and Contemporary Amperex Technology Corp. to build a battery plant in Michigan have stalled due to geopolitical tensions between the U.S. and China, according to people familiar with the matter. It concludes months of research. .

The multi-billion dollar facility, located about 100 miles west of Detroit, is expected to create about 2,500 jobs, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans have not yet been made public. Told. An agreement could be announced as early as next week, they said.

Despite uncertainty about how the U.S. Treasury Department will interpret the Inflation Reduction Act’s requirements, Ford is pushing ahead with the project. The law is designed to withhold consumer tax credits for EVs manufactured with certain amounts of China-related materials in their batteries.

Ford said in an email that it was “considering a battery based on CATL’s technology for Ford vehicles and has plans to localize production in North America.” did not specify whether other details of the extent of the decision were made.

CATL did not immediately respond to an e-mail request for comment outside of China business hours.

Ford shares fell 5.6% in New York on Friday to close at $12.73. This year he is up 9.5%.

The US automaker and China’s CATL, the world’s largest electric vehicle battery maker, are considering a new ownership structure in which Ford will own 100% of the plant, including the building and infrastructure, Bloomberg reported last year. Ford employees built the batteries, and CATL owned the technology to make the cells, according to people familiar with the matter.

Such an arrangement would allow the facility to qualify for favorable production tax credits under the Controlled Inflation Act without requiring a direct financial investment from CATL.

The new factory site near the small town of Marshall in southwestern Michigan has room for expansion that could bring in even more jobs and investment, people familiar with the matter said.

The companies also thought Virginia could be home to the factory, Bloomberg previously reported. Virginia’s Glenn Youngkin, a possible 2024 Republican candidate, has called CATL a ‘Trojan horse’ for China, undermining policy efforts to boost the U.S. auto industry. When the choice was lost. Macaulay Porter, a spokesman for Youngkin, declined to comment on Friday.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called Youngkin’s move a “political decision” and argued for a position that differed from her counterparts, The Detroit News reported last month. Whitmer has been fighting to attract more EV battery investment after losing out to Tennessee and Kentucky in Ford’s historic $11.4 billion Blue Oval City investment in 2021. rice field.

Ford announced in July that it would begin using CATL’s inexpensive lithium iron phosphate battery packs in this year’s Mustang Mach-E models and the F-150 Lightning pickup in early 2024. Ford says it plans to source 40 gigawatt hours of these batteries annually in North America in 2026, but will initially import them from China.

Ford has invested $50 billion broadly in the development and manufacture of electric vehicles and plans to produce 2 million vehicles annually by the end of 2026. The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker was the second best-selling EV in the U.S. last year, lagging far behind. Tesla controls almost two-thirds of the American market.

— With help from Craig Torres.

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