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Ford to make EV batteries in U.S. with South Korea innovation firm

By
Don Johnson
Ford CEO Jim Farley compared the battery venture to the building of engines and powertrain components in the early 1900s and said it will safeguard against future shortages. File Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI
Ford CEO Jim Farley compared the battery venture to the building of engines and powertrain components in the early 1900s and said it will safeguard against future shortages. File Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI | License Photo

May 20 (UPI) -- Ford announced on Thursday that it will partner with South Korean battery maker SK Innovation to manufacture electric vehicle batteries in the United States.

The joint venture will be called BlueOvalSK and production is expected to begin in a few years.

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"It's a key part of our plan to vertically integrate key capabilities that will differentiate Ford far into the future," said Ford President and CEO Jim Farley said in a statement.

"We will not cede our future to anyone else."

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Farley compared the production of battery cells to the building of engines and powertrain components in the early 1900s, adding that it will safeguard against future shortages.

During the unveiling of Ford's new electric F-150 Lightning pickup on Wednesday, Farley said the company has to "in-source" now as the industry changes. President Joe Biden got a look at the pickup a day early during a visit to Ford's plant in Dearborn, Mich. -- and even took it for a spin.

Biden's administration is pushing to get more electric vehicles on American roads. The electric F-150 is expected to go on sale in mid-2022.

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Biden has proposed spending $174 billion to support electric vehicle manufacturing as part of his American Jobs Plan.

"Look, the future of the auto industry is electric," Biden said during his trip to Dearborn. "There's no turning back. The only question is whether we'll lead the race or fall behind."

The BlueOvalSK venture is subject to regulatory approval.

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"Ford is one of the most active players in vehicle electrification today," said SK Innovation CEO and President Kim Jun in Thursday's announcement.

SK Innovation, headquartered in Seoul, has manufactured mid- to large-size electric vehicle batteries since 1991. It also operates a battery plant in Georgia.

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