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Ford To Build 4 New Factories, Invest $11B To Expand Electric Vehicle Production

A rendering of the Ford F-150 Lightning, the first electric version of the company's most popular automobile.

Ford Motor Co. is making a huge commitment of both capital and real estate to electric vehicles.

The automobile giant announced plans to build four factories in Tennessee and Kentucky, three of which will produce batteries for electric vehicles and one that will produce electric F-series trucks. The initiative, projected to cost $11.4B, is in partnership with SK Innovation, a South Korean supplier of battery cells.

The center of the initiative will be Blue Oval City, a 3,600-acre, $5.6B campus in the West Tennessee town of Stanton. There, Ford plans to build its car factory and one of its three battery plants, to be called BlueOvalSK, and also house some suppliers and a recycling plant. The complex is designed to be carbon-neutral and produce no landfill waste once fully operational, which is projected to be in 2025, the announcement says.

The remaining two BlueOvalSK battery factories are planned to reside in a 1,500-acre, $5.8B twin facility called BlueOvalSK Battery Park in the central Kentucky town of Glendale, the announcement says. The campus represents the single-largest investment in the state of Kentucky, according to a statement from Gov. Andy Beshear included in the press release. Between the two sites, Ford said it expects to create 11,000 jobs and account for $7B of the total spend. That leaves $4.4B to be invested by SK Innovation. 

While the announcement from Ford stressed the environmental need for both electric vehicles and sustainable production, electric vehicles have been sold commercially for over a decade. Ford and other automakers who have also made commitments to lean hard into electric vehicles are likely responding to the explosion in value of Tesla, which has a market capitalization of $800B, making it the most valuable automaker in the world, The New York Times reports.

Ford expects up to 50% of its global vehicle volume to be made up of electric vehicles by 2030, the announcement stated, while General Motors has pledged to end production of internal combustion vehicles by 2035, the Times reports.

Consumer demand clearly goes beyond the Tesla brand; though Ford's F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck isn't expected to be released until next spring, it already has 150,000 preorders from individuals and businesses, the Times reports. Ford has already started selling an electric SUV called the Mustang Mach-E and will soon release an electric transit van, but those aren't expected to be produced at Blue Oval City.