Ford wants to boost electric vehicle production – and LFP batteries are part of that
Demand far outstrips supply for Ford electric vehicles like that Ford F-150 Lightning and Ford Mustang Mach-E. But on Thursday, Ford confirmed some details about how it will capitalize on that demand and dramatically increase its EV production over the next few years.
By the end of 2023, Ford expects to build 270,000 Mustang Mach-E vehicles annually for North America, Europe and China; 150,000 F-150 Lightning pickups for North America; 150,000 E-Transits for North America and Europe; and 30,000 units of a “completely new SUV for Europe, the production of which will increase significantly in 2024”.
Ford plans to produce 600,000 electric vehicles annually by the end of 2023
Getting there will save a lot of extra battery capacity. The automaker confirmed plans to “localize” 40 GWh annual production of lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery cells.
LFP cells have some advantages. For example, as we mentioned earlier, LFP cells in the Tesla Model 3 allow regular charging to 100% without battery degradation. That’s unlike the more common NCA battery pack, where Tesla emphasizes charging to 80% to 90% most of the time and only saving 100% for road trips.
Rivian also plans to use LFP cells in its “280+ Mile” standard pack for the R1T and R1S – the smallest and most affordable of three battery packs.
On the other hand, cold weather charging can be significantly slower for LFP cells, which requires some different thermal strategies. LFP cells are also less energy dense. In terms of weight, for example, CATL pointed out that its latest cell-to-pack battery system offers an energy density of 255 Wh/kg with lithium-ion cells versus 160 Wh/kg with LFP cells.
The LFP packages will be offered on some versions of the Mach-E starting in 2023 and on versions of the Ford F-150 Lightning in early 2024. Current cells for the Mach-E are manufactured by LG in Poland, while cells for the F-150 Lightning are manufactured in Georgia (in the US) by SK Innovation.
CATL cell for packing battery tech sketch
The company also reported that its joint venture BlueOval SK with SK On was officially formed last week.
Ford also announced a new agreement with CATL for a strategic collaboration on global battery supply and direct material sourcing. It is planned to use CATL’s prismatic cell-to-pack technology to enable additional capacities. Meanwhile, LG has doubled its capacity in Poland for the NCM cells used for the Mach-E and the E-Transit electric van.
Ford says it has already sourced 70% of the battery capacity needed to support more than two million EV sales by 2026. It expects EV sales growth to grow at 90% annually through 2026. That’s a number said to be twice the expected growth for the industry.
The automaker also says that for the first time, a majority of consumers planning to buy a car in the next two years say they will choose an electric vehicle or hybrid – up from just 22% in 2020 – and quotes findings from the research company EY.