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Ford speeds to electric with $11.4B investment

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Ford Motor Company's Chairman Bill Ford (R) talks to UAW president Rory Gamble before they unveil their new electric F-150 Lightning truck outside of their headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan on May 19, 2021. AFP

Ford speeds to electric with $11.4B investment

US car manufacturer Ford Motor Co on September 27 said it plans to invest $11.4 billion in electric vehicle (EV) production, in a bid to position itself to lead the US’ shift away from climate-damaging fossil fuels.

The company said it will build four new plants to produce EVs and batteries that will create 11,000 new jobs by 2025.

Together with its South Korean partner SK Innovation, Ford will build the factories in the US states of Kentucky and Tennessee, the automaker said in a statement.

Ford will invest $7 billion, part of a $30 billion investment already announced last spring, and SK Innovation Co Ltd will put up the remainder.

Ford said it would be the “largest, most advanced, most efficient auto production complex in its 118-year history” and would place the company at the forefront of the country’s shift to EVs.

The statement said: “This investment supports the company’s longer-term goal to create a sustainable American manufacturing ecosystem, and to accelerate its progress towards achieving carbon neutrality, backed by science-based targets in line with the Paris Climate Agreement.”

The company expects between 40 and 50 per cent of its global vehicles to be fully electric by 2030, according to the statement.

Executive chair Bill Ford said: “This is a transformative moment where Ford will lead America’s transition to electric vehicles and usher in a new era of clean, carbon-neutral manufacturing.”

“With this investment and a spirit of innovation, we can achieve goals once thought mutually exclusive – protect our planet, build great electric vehicles Americans will love and contribute to our nation’s prosperity,” he added.

The announcement came amid strong demand for the company’s new F-150 Lightning pickup vehicle and other electric models such as the E-Transit and the Mustang Mach-E.

Like its competitor General Motors Co (GM), the manufacturer is striving to catch up with Tesla, the main pioneer of electric cars.

Ford, which revolutionised automated car production a century ago, said its rollout would be “the largest ever US investment in electric vehicles at one time by any automotive manufacturer”.

Under mounting pressure from public opinion, and with customers and investors increasingly sensitive to environmental concerns, many car manufacturers have started to turn towards EVs to reduce harmful emissions.

Until recently, the shift to electric had not been so marked.

Ford CEO Jim Farley said: “We are moving now to deliver breakthrough electric vehicles for the many rather than the few.”

Echoing a theme close to President Joe Biden’s economic plans, as well as his determination to transform infrastructure to tackle climate change, Farley said the investment was “about creating good jobs that support American families”.

Ford’s announcement will give a boost to Biden’s Democratic Party, who are putting their massive infrastructure investment plan of some $1 trillion to a vote in Congress this week.

The Democrats want to take steps to tackle climate change, insisting the switch to a greener economy could create millions of jobs in the future.

In its original form, the infrastructure plan provided for the construction of a national network of 500,000 charging stations by 2030 and a switch to electricity for 20 per cent of the country’s famous yellow school buses.

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