Ford EV battery supplier
Ford has begun construction on a new $3.5 billion battery manufacturing facility in Marshall, Michigan that will produce lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries for its electric vehicles. The move will make the automaker the only OEM to manufacture both LFP and nickel-cobalt-manganese (NCM) batteries for its EVs domestically in the US Ford EV battery supplier.
The new plant, called Blue Oval Battery Park Michigan, will employ 2,500 workers when it opens in 2026 and will be able to add about 35 gigawatt hours of LFP battery capacity to Ford’s portfolio. That’s enough to power around 400,000 electric vehicles. Experts have predicted that it will be a challenge to buy enough battery capacity to meet the demand for electric vehicles in the coming years, so more and more car manufacturers are positioning themselves to control their supply Ford EV battery supplier.
Ford LFP and NMC battery comparison
Why is LFP important Ford EV battery supplier?
Most electric vehicles today use nickel-cobalt-manganese battery cells because they provide extremely high energy density. However, there are serious problems with the nickel and cobalt supply chain, including shortages as well as human rights and environmental issues. Therefore, more and more EV manufacturers are looking at other battery supply solutions and LFP batteries are currently the most desirable option.
But that is not the only reason why LFP cells have become the ”battery de jour”. LFP batteries also cost less to produce, tend to have a longer lifespan, and can be fully charged and discharged without causing the accelerated degradation that occurs when NCM cells are treated that way.
”We are committed to leading the electric vehicle revolution in America, and that means investing in the technology and jobs that will keep us at the forefront of this global transformation in our industry,” said Bill Ford, Ford’s executive chairman. “I am also proud that we chose our home state of Michigan for this critical battery manufacturing hub.
But there are disadvantages to LFP cells. They do not have the same energy density as NCM cells, therefore more battery volume is needed to achieve the same energy output. More battery volume usually means more weight, which in itself requires more battery to drive the vehicle the same distance.
Another problem with LFP batteries is that they usually don’t perform as well in cold climates as NCM batteries do. However, progress has been made in improving cold-weather performance in Tesla vehicles, so with further development, Ford may be able to overcome that challenge as well Ford EV battery supplier.
Ford’s NCM pouch cells compared to their new LFP prismatic cells
Ford will use prismatic cells for its LFP batteries, as opposed to the pouch-like cells it uses for its NCM cells. A Ford representative explained to InsideEVs that the shape change is to help overcome the lower energy density problem of LFP cells. The larger, prismatic cells mean there’s more battery and less packaging in the same space, allowing Ford to squeeze more kWh into the same battery footprint.
Because LFP batteries can be regularly charged to 100%, Ford does not need to recommend its customers to charge to 85% daily, as they currently do. Therefore, the LFP-equipped vehicles could theoretically have a greater daily driving range if Ford manages to squeeze the same amount of kWh into the pack as they do for the NCM variants.
Agreement with CATL
An integral part of Ford’s new LFP battery plans is a new agreement in place with Contemporary Amperex Technology Company (CATL), the world’s leading battery supplier. CATL will initially supply Ford with LFP cells that will begin powering all standard range Mustang Mach-Es later this year. The extended-range Mach-Es will continue to use NCM battery packs.
By next year, the standard series F-150 Lightning will also come with LFP packages while the extended range vehicles will continue to use NCM. CATL will continue to supply the Chinese-made LPF cells to Ford until the new plant has the capacity to produce them. CATL has agreed to license its LFP battery technology to Ford and will have employees at the new Ford plant to assist with and oversee production Ford EV battery supplier.
Currently, Ford is the number two US automaker in terms of production of electric vehicles and the company estimates that it will sell two million EVs annually by 2026. By comparison, Tesla hopes to sell two million vehicles this year, so even with an aggressive expansion of EVs -production, Ford accepts that it won’t be possible to surpass Tesla for quite some time. Unlike General Motors which claims it will be the leading electric car manufacturer by 2025.