Ford, China’s CATL mull US battery plant | Daily News Byte

Ford, China’s CATL mull US battery plant

 | Daily News Byte

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The Treasury Department is scheduled to issue guidance finalizing content requirements and IRA tax credits later this month.

‘Still deliberating’

“CATL is still considering investing in the US and we have not made a decision yet,” the battery maker said in an emailed statement. “There are many models being discussed regarding our investment in the US, and all of those options are based solely and solely on business concerns.”

The company, which already has a deal to sell batteries to Ford for use in its flagship F-150 Lightning and Mustang Mach-E vehicles, said it was “untrue” that the Chinese government was opposed to the investment of CATL in the US

The Chinese Embassy in Washington had no immediate response to a request for comment. China’s Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ford said in a statement that “our discussions with CATL are ongoing – and we have nothing new to announce.”

If Ford chooses Virginia or elsewhere, it will mark another high-profile snub by its home state. Ford has chosen to build battery hubs in Tennessee and Kentucky in its initial $11 billion investment in South Korea’s SK Innovation Co.

Securing enough batteries to power millions of plug-in models has become a key competitive battleground in the emerging EV market. In addition to Ford’s joint venture with SK, General Motors has established a partnership with LG Energy Solution Ltd. of South Korea to build battery plants in the US

“Owning the battery value chain is very important, there’s no doubt,” Lisa Drake, Ford’s vice president of EV industrialization, said in an interview Tuesday on the sidelines of a Ford technology event. That is why we ourselves control the raw materials, nickel, lithium, etc.

He declined to comment on the details of the CATL negotiations.

Competitive in cost

CATL, the world’s largest maker of batteries for electric vehicles, is considering locations in Mexico and the US to supply cells to automakers including Ford and Tesla Inc., reported the Bloomberg earlier this year. But the IRA production tax credit, worth up to $35 per kilowatt hour for each cell produced, could make manufacturing batteries cheaper in the US than in Mexico, according to people familiar with the matter. Subsidies also offset US tariffs on raw materials imported from China.

Ford announced its partnership with CATL in July, saying it has secured 70 percent of the battery capacity needed to produce more than 2 million EVs annually starting in 2026, a goal set by CEO Jim Farley.

During Ford’s third-quarter earnings call in October, Farley was asked about the status of the CATL partnership given tensions between the US and China. Farley said Ford could “economically” import lithium iron phosphate, or LFP, batteries from China, but cited other options to localize production.

“The real billion dollar question is, when do you localize LFP production in North America?,” he said on the call. “Whose name is on the front of the building?”

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