Ford Speeds Development and Manufacture of Lithium Ion Batteries with $185M ‘Learning Lab’

(Credit: Ford Motor Company)

by | Apr 29, 2021

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(Credit: Ford Motor Company)

Ford is building a new global battery center in southeast Michigan to help the company more quickly develop and manufacture battery cells and batteries. The new Ford Ion Park, a $185 million “collaborative learning lab,” will develop and manufacture lithium-ion and solid-state vehicle batteries. Ford says the new center will “drive high-volume battery cell delivery, better range and lower costs for customers.”

The center, complete with a cross-functional team of 150 experts, will also look at improving integration and innovation across all aspects of the battery value chain, from mines to recycling.

The company is already scaling up the production of all-electric vehicles as more consumers are expected to desire them. “Investing in more battery R&D ultimately will help us speed the process to deliver more, even better, lower-cost EVs for customers over time,” says Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s chief product platform, and operations officer. The expansion of Ford’s battery R&D will help the company better control costs and production variables while scaling production around the world, he says.

The automaker’s Battery Benchmarking and Test Laboratory, which opened late last year, has 150 test chambers and 325 channels for development work. Ford says experts at the $100 million labs already have analyzed more than 150 types of battery cells.

Demand for EV batteries is expected to soar as automakers increasingly comply with emission standards and boost their production of battery electric vehicles (BEVs), Moody’s Investor Service said in February. Tightening regulations and the growth of BEVs are also expected to spur improvements in battery capacity. The International Energy Agency projects global battery capacity for BEVs and plug-in hybrid vehicles will grow by 24% on a compounded annual basis between 2020 and 2030.

Ford this year announced its commitment to invest at least $22 billion through 2025 to deliver connected, electrified vehicles, starting with EV versions of its most popular brands. In Europe, Ford is moving to an all-electric lineup by 2030.

Since 2004, Ford has sold more than 1 million hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and all-electric vehicles and integrated four generations of batteries into its vehicles. By year-end, the company will be manufacturing electrified vehicles and supporting technologies at more than 15 powertrain and vehicle assembly plants globally.

Last June, Ford set a target of reaching carbon neutrality globally within the next 30 years.

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