Ford investigating producing its own batteries for future EVs

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Words: Matthew Hansen
17 Nov 2020

Instead of sourcing its vehicle battery cells from third parties, Ford is now considering doing its own in-house research and development on the technology.

Speaking at a technology conference held by Reuters, Ford CEO Jim Farley confirmed the news. “We are discussing [battery] cell manufacturing. I think that’s natural as [EV] volume grows,” he said.

It’s a curious 180 for the American car manufacturer. Previous CEO Jim Hackett once said that there was “no advantage” to Ford pursuing the tech themselves. But, with a new leader at the helm it appears that this perspective has changed.

What may also be underlining the shift in attitude is Ford’s surge in electrified announcements. The firm has gone from having no fully electric vehicles in its global line-up to having three, following the unveiling of the Mustang Mach-E and last week’s E-Transit, plus the upcoming full EV F-150. The E-Transit has already been confirmed as a starter for the New Zealand market.

Ford also has a quickly expanding hybrid line-up, consisting in the US of the Fusion (Mondeo), Escape, and Explorer. The Escape plug-in hybrid is expected to be a good seller for Ford when it lands in New Zealand, although a recent fire risk recall has seen its arrival become delayed.

Should it go ahead with the move, Ford will join the likes of General Motors and Tesla in developing its own battery tech. The advantages of this include better control of the supply chain and aftersales, the ability to make bespoke and tailored product, and the ability to sell the tech to others.

“Ford is North America and Europe’s commercial vehicle leader, so the transition of fleet vehicles to zero emissions, especially for the fast-growing last-mile delivery segment, is critical to achieve our carbon neutral goal by 2050,” said Farley during the unveiling of the E-Transit.

“It’s good for the planet and a huge advantage for customers with lower operating costs and new connected technologies that will help their businesses. We are doubling down on the software and digital services to help our fleet customers grow and more efficiently run their businesses.”

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