Ford shrinks US LFP battery plant capacity by more than 40%

Nov. 25, 2023

Dearborn restarts work on a much-reduced BlueOval battery park in Michigan

In a terse statement, Ford Motor Company announced this week it is resuming work on its BlueOval Battery Park in the US state of Michigan, but the plant will now be a 20 GWh a year facility and not the 35 GWh factory announced with much fanfare in February.  

“While we remain bullish on our long-term strategy for electric vehicles, we are re-timing and resizing some investments […] as we balance investment, growth and profitability,” Dearborn-based Ford said adding that it remains committed to starting production in 2026. 

Ford acknowledged that the originally promised $1.8 billion in taxpayer subsidies will be reduced but did not put a firm number on how much of the original $3.5 billion will be spent.  

Ford also confirmed that global number one cell manufacturer Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) remains its partner on BlueOval. Output of 20 GWh is enough for some 214,000 full electric vehicles (BEVs), based on Ford’s sales-weighted average pack capacity of 93.4 kWh in 2023 to-date, Adamas data shows.

Ford made much of the fact that the plant would produce lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries when it launched the investment, calling it a “key part” of its US EV plans allowing it to “scale more quickly, making EVs more accessible and affordable for customers.”

LFP in the USA

Apart from Tesla’s Model 3, the only other LFP vehicles roaming US streets in numbers are Rivian’s delivery vans made for Amazon, although the Detroit-based startup could well bring LFP to its popular pickups and SUVs in due course. 

LFP penetration is in the single digits in the US (versus more than half of the market in China) and that’s thanks almost entirely to CATL-cell containing Model 3s available in the country.  CATL also provides cells for Tesla at its Shanghai factory from where LFP powered versions of the Model 3 and Y are exported to Europe and elsewhere. 

In fact, the bulk of newly sold Model 3s around the world this year have been LFP powered and the LFP-version of the Model Y currently occupies the top spot in China (by battery capacity deployed). Tesla is also expected to produce LFP batteries at its Texas factory, which is currently under construction, with the help of CATL. 

Lightning hasn’t struck  

On a battery capacity deployed basis, data from Adamas Intelligence shows the Ford Mustang Mach-E is the third most popular EV in the US so far this year with over 2.5 GWh of electrified pony power hitting American roads, representing 52% of all GWh deployed by Ford this year to date.

However, the electric version of America’s best-selling truck has shockingly underperformed market expectations. The Ford F-150 Lightning barely cracks the top 10 in the US by battery capacity deployed with a mere 1.8 GWh hauled onto roads so far this year, well behind Californian startup Rivian’s R1T pick-up, which comes in at number five with 2.0 GWh year-to-date.  

By OEM, Ford is a distant second to Tesla by battery capacity deployed in the US at 4.9 GWh through September of this year. Despite its claim to second, Ford has managed to corner less than 7% of the country’s EV market so far in 2023 by GWh deployed and its luxury sub-brand Lincoln has hardly made a dent in the US. 

In fact, at over 5 GWh, the batteries fitted to LFP-powered Model 3s sold in the US alone sported more power hours than the entire Ford-Lincoln line-up sold nationwide year-to-date.



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