Just hours after revealing the 2022 F-150 Lightning electric truck, Ford is announcing a joint venture with South Korean battery manufacturer SK Innovation. The joint venture is set to be called BlueOvalSK, and the goal will be to accelerate battery pack manufacturing alongside R&D of battery technology.
A number of details are being spelled out initially. At the start, BlueOvalSK will be producing about 60 GWh per year. That’s equivalent to approximately 600,000 Ford Mustang Mach-Es with the extended range battery pack, Ford says. Over the years, Ford says there’s the potential to expand this joint venture for even more battery pack production. An expansion may prove necessary, too, as Ford predicts it will require 140 GWh per year by 2030 in North America. That expands to 240 GWh if you take into account international markets, too.
To produce the 60 GWh per year Ford says it will with SK Innovation, Ford estimates it will require two new battery-making factories. Where these factories will be located is still undefined, but Ford says it intends to have both of them be in North America. SK Innovation currently has a battery plant in Georgia and is continuing to expand in both Europe and China.
Ford says it’s entering into this joint venture now, because its battery pack needs will be dramatically increasing in the near future. In addition to the Mustang Mach-E, Ford will require batteries for the F-150 Lightning and E-Transit soon. And the number of EVs from Ford will only grow over the coming decade.
With the volume needs increasing, the scale makes sense for Ford to have its foot firmly in the door. There’s a sense of security in case any shortages (like the recent chip shortage) should crop up. It allows Ford to gain expertise in the manufacturing process and battery supply chain. Lastly, Ford claims costs will go down, and it will help them to drive better battery tech and improved chemistry in the future. We’ll learn more details as Ford and SK Innovation finalize the joint venture details later this year.