Ford put its money where its mouth is on Monday when it came to its commitment to electric vehicles. The company rolled out plans to make its single biggest investment ever towards that end -- one dedicated to building electric vehicle factories. The automaker says it plans to lead America's shift to electric with an $11.4 billion investment that will create 11,000 jobs at sites in Kentucky and Tennessee.
The announcement marks the third time this year that Ford has pushed its electric vehicle plans forward. Earlier this year, it announced plans to produce an electric version of its F-150 truck, produce more electric versions of its Mustang than gas-powered versions in 2021, and produce nothing but electric vehicles in Europe by 2030.
Boosting production and job growth
At Tennessee’s proposed plant -- dubbed Blue Oval City and located in Stanton, Tenn., -- Ford will build next-generation electric F-Series pickups and advanced batteries. A sister site -- BlueOvalSK Battery Park -- will be built in Glendale, Ken., and will consist of twin battery plants that will power a new lineup of Ford and Lincoln electric vehicles.
The Kentucky plant is a joint venture with SK Innovation, a South Korean conglomerate. The two battery plants are set to begin production in 2025, with the second one in Kentucky coming online in 2026, according to Ford North America Chief Operating Officer Lisa Drake.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear stated that the planned battery park is the largest individual project and the biggest job-creation announcement in Kentucky's history. "At nearly $6 billion, it is three times larger than any economic development investment that we have ever seen," he said Monday.
Beshear also predicted that with construction work and downstream production, there will likely be more than the estimated 11,000 jobs Ford predicts for line workers. Many of those jobs are future-thinking positions that the White House, Amazon, and others are investing in.
"These are really jobs of the future that frankly, you know, Kentuckians probably didn't have access to before, but now they do," Drake said.
Consumers are split over electric vehicles
Given America’s love for gas-powered vehicles, conventional thinking might propose that moving U.S. consumers to electric vehicles will take some convincing. However, a recent Pew Research Center report found that 47% of U.S. adults actually support phasing out the production of gasoline-powered cars and trucks, versus the 51% who oppose it.
While they point out that the actual execution of electric vehicles leaves a lot to be desired right now, one ConsumerAffairs reader believes that Ford has the right idea.
“In principle, the [Mustang] Mach-E is an awesome car. It drives like the luxury car it’s advertised to be and you can tell Ford is generally headed in the right direction,” wrote Chris from Boulder, Colo.