Ford set to announce $3.5 billion EV battery plant in Michigan, sources say

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The announcement will include details about the $3.5 billion factory and 2,500 new jobs in Marshall, the two officials told Crain’s.

The state has offered $1 billion in incentives, including cash and site development funds, from Michigan’s Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve Fund, one of the sources said. The account has around $200 million that is not spoken for. Lawmakers will be asked to add $800 million in a supplemental spending bill.

“Several Ford executives will be part of the briefing and go more in depth on the plans,” the Ford advisory said.  A spokesman for the automaker declined to comment beyond the advisory.

While the automaker has not confirmed details of the project, Michigan has been competing for a $3.5 billion lithium iron phosphate factory planned by Ford and Chinese battery giant CATL.

The plant would be near the intersection of Interstates 69 and 94, both key commercial corridors.

The project would transform a small town in south-central Michigan, some 10 miles from Battle Creek, that has suffered population and job loss in recent years.

Landing the plant also represents a redemption of sorts for Michigan in its quest to maintain automotive dominance. Ford sent shock waves through the state in 2021 when it announced it would be venturing away from home to invest $11 billion in EV plants and create thousands of jobs in Kentucky and Tennessee.

The Ford-CATL plant has not been without controversy.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin said last month that he removed his state from consideration for the factory — Michigan’s only publicly known competitor for the plant — because it would serve as a “Trojan horse” for China into the U.S., helping the Far East bolster its EV battery dominance and spread its influence.

Ford has not detailed the exact makeup of its partnership with CATL, but a source close to the plan said it would be unlike a traditional joint venture in that Ford would own the plant with employees on its payroll, while CATL would provide battery technology and expertise.

Ford EV targets

Ford is looking to increase its annual global EV production to 600,000 vehicles by late 2023 and 2 million by 2026 as it looks to gain ground on EV market leader Tesla Inc.

Other automakers are also rushing to set up new plants to support a rapid expansion of EV production.

General Motors announced last year it would invest $6.5 billion for EV projects in Orion Township, Mich., and the Lansing suburb of Delta Township.

Stellantis NV’s move last year to invest more than $2.5 billion and create 1,400 new jobs for an EV plant in Kokomo, Ind., also was a blow to Michigan, but the automaker is searching for a home for another battery plant.

Michigan is in play for it, and an announcement is expected in the second quarter, a Stellantis spokeswoman confirmed.

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. has said it is aggressively competing for other large battery and semiconductor projects.

“Michigan is always talking to Ford and any of our large employers,” MEDC CEO Quentin Messer told Crain’s Detroit Business last month. “We talk in general about making sure that Michigan remains a competitive environment for opportunity.”

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