Automobile

Ford to spend $7B on EV campuses in Ky., Tenn.

Blue Oval City in Tennessee, a $5.6 billion project, will spread out over six square miles. Ford said the site would be vertically integrated similar to the Rouge Complex.

The assembly plant, which is Ford’s first new greenfield plant since Kentucky Truck opened in 1969, will be carbon-neutral and built with the potential to use geothermal, solar and wind power, Ford said.

“This is intended to be an incredibly efficient ecosystem,” Drake said. “It doesn’t matter much if you build an EV if you’re not as conscious about how you’re building it. The whole site layout and environment is just as important as the product we’re building.”

Officials declined to say whether the trucks built there starting in 2025 would be F-150s or Super Duty pickups, but they said it will allow the company to “reach new customers with an expanded electric truck lineup.” It will feature the company’s new, dedicated EV architecture unveiled in May.

The automaker plans to begin selling an electric F-150 next year, although its architecture will largely mimic the current gasoline-powered pickup. The company has taken 150,000 reservations for the truck in the form of refundable deposits.

Drake said Ford viewed the future vehicle production at the Tennessee assembly plant as incremental to the internal combustion F-150s currently built in Missouri and Michigan, as well as the electric F-150 Lightning, which also will be made in Michigan.

“We believe we have room to grow the F-Series franchise,” Drake said. “This investment is all about growth. It’s a fantastic thing for those employees in Kansas City and Dearborn because it just reinforces how strong the F-Series franchise is.”

The Blue Oval City campus will include room for Redwood Materials, a battery-recycling company created by Tesla co-founder JB Straubel. Ford this month announced a partnership with Redwood to recycle EV battery components and eventually use recycled parts in future products.

Drake said Ford plans to begin hiring for salaried positions in Kentucky and Tennessee immediately and will begin to fill hourly positions closer to the plants’ openings.

Because the Kentucky battery plants will be part of a joint venture, she said it will be up to that entity and its workers to determine whether the plant is unionized. Drake said she expected the automaker’s strong relationship with the UAW to continue in Tennessee.

“We do need to modernize some of our agreements, but we’re looking forward to a really successful relationship with them in Tennessee,” Drake said. “At the end of the day, the employees in the facility will have to choose how they want to organize.”

UAW President Ray Curry, in a statement, echoed Drake’s comments.

“The UAW has always taken a lead in manufacturing innovation with our employer partners,” he said. “We look forward to reaching out and helping develop this new workforce to build these world class vehicles and battery components.”

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