This week brings the latest multi-billion dollar investment in U.S. battery manufacturing — but with a geopolitical twist, Ben writes.

🏃🏽‍♀️Catch up fast: Ford will pour $3.5 billion into a Marshall, Mich. plant that will have 2,500 employees when initial production starts in 2026.

The intrigue: Ford is licensing tech and using services from Chinese battery giant CATL, though the project is wholly owned by Ford.

  • The agreement arrives as revelations of Chinese surveillance balloons have worsened already high U.S.-China tensions.
  • The Information’s Steve LeVine reported that “in a display of the thorny politics,” President Biden declined an invite to join Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Ford officials at the rollout.
  • The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment on that report.

What they’re saying: GOP House Majority Leader Steve Scalise said the White House’s “leftist green agenda” makes the U.S. more reliant on China.

The other side: Ford officials emphasized it’s a U.S.-owned project.

  • CATL will “help us get up to speed so we can build these batteries ourselves — batteries made here in Michigan and built for America,” executive chairman Bill Ford said at the announcement.
  • Via The Detroit News, Ford’s Lisa Drake noted automakers including Tesla already use imported CATL batteries, but in this project, Ford has “control over the manufacturing, control over the production, control over the workforce.”

🖼️ The big picture: The deal is the latest notch on the growing U.S. “battery belt” as automakers race to produce equipment for their electrification plans.

🔭 Zoom in: The plant will produce lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries, giving Ford another battery chemistry alongside the nickel cobalt manganese (NCM) batteries that now power Ford’s EV lineup.

  • The automaker noted nickel and cobalt are in high demand with limited supply, making them more costly.
  • The batteries have different attributes that appeal to different customer needs, Ford said.
  • NCM’s greater power and energy density enable more range, while LFP batteries charge faster and help cut vehicle costs.
Call Mobile Skip to content