Autos

Ford is 'absolutely' interested in producing EV batteries like Tesla and GM

Key Points
  • Ford CEO Jim Farley said the automaker is "absolutely" interested in following Tesla and General Motors in producing its own batteries for electric vehicles.
  • His comments are a reversal from former CEO Jim Hackett, who told investors in July that Ford saw "no advantage" in producing EV batteries.
  • Farley said Ford is evaluating producing EV batteries, but no plans have been finalized.
Jim Farley in 2017.
Luke Macgregor | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Ford Motor is "absolutely" interested in following Tesla and General Motors in producing its own batteries for electric vehicles, new CEO Jim Farley said Friday.

The comments are a reversal from Farley's predecessor, Jim Hackett, who told investors in July that the automaker saw "no advantage" in producing the batteries instead of purchasing them from a third-party supplier. Farley succeeded Hackett on Oct. 1.

Farley said Ford is looking at producing EV batteries, including the complex cells that power the vehicles, but no plans have been finalized. He said such production could be a way to offset expected factory job losses as EVs require fewer workers to produce.

"Absolutely, we're discussing it as a team," Farley said during a Reuters automotive conference. "We think that it's a natural time now because our volume is really growing."

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Ford is set to release an all-electric crossover called the Mustang Mach-E in the coming weeks, followed by an EV version of its Transit commercial van next year and an all-electric version of its flagship F-150 pickup in 2022.

Farley said Ford is finding there's not a lot of flexibility to increase capacity from third-party suppliers for batteries. He said now is the time to discuss battery production as it grows its EV portfolio ahead of a next-generation of vehicles coming around 2025.

"There's a lot of other reasons beyond cost to make a move," Farley said. "It's something we're discussing inside the company and it's the right time to discuss it."

Before Tesla started producing batteries in its Gigafactory with Panasonic in 2017, automakers were sourcing batteries, which are extremely complex to produce, from third-party suppliers. GM last year announced a $2.3 billion join venture with LG Chem to produce its proprietary Ultium batteries and cells at a new facility currently under construction in Ohio.