Ford has announced its plans to develop vehicle batteries at a new global R&D center called Ford Ion Park. The main goal of the center will be to accelerate research and development of battery and battery cell technology – including future battery manufacturing.
The American automaker is building on nearly two decades of battery expertise by centralizing a cross-functional team of 150 experts in battery technology development, research, manufacturing, planning, purchasing, quality, and finance to develop and manufacture battery cells and batteries more quickly. The Ion Park team is also exploring better integration and innovation opportunities across all aspects of the value chain – from mines to recycling – working with all teams within Ford to do so – including experts at Ford’s new Battery Benchmarking and Test Laboratory, Ford Customer Service Division, as well as key suppliers and partners.
Ford also announced the opening of a $185 million collaborative learning lab in Southeast Michigan late next year. The lab is dedicated to developing, testing, and building vehicle battery cells and cell arrays and will include pilot-scale equipment for electrode, cell, and array design and manufacturing. It will use state-of-the-art technologies to pilot new manufacturing techniques that will allow Ford to scale new battery cell designs with novel materials (once the company vertically integrates battery cells and batteries).
The Ford Ion Park team will ensure batteries are optimized for its diverse customers – from daily commuters to performance enthusiasts to commercial vehicle fleet operators. The team will apply customer insights to optimize battery technologies that aim to deliver the performance and capability that truck, utility, commercial vehicle, and fleet owners value the most. For example, creating distinct batteries and technologies to deliver meaningful towing and off-road capability for truck customers, as well as stop-and-go driving efficiency for fleet operators in cities worldwide.
Ford’s Battery Benchmarking and Test Laboratory in Allen Park, Mich., will help it test and identify the right battery cells and chemistries needed to power their growing EV lineup to best meet different customer needs. The laboratory, which opened late last year, has 150 test chambers and 325 channels for development work. Experts at the $100 million, 185,000 sq.-ft. lab have analyzed more than 150 types of battery cells. It houses battery cell and pack test rooms, test benches, and benchmarking facilities to support battery cell design validation, controls calibration, pack development, and pilot battery pack projects with different chemistries. The lab team can replicate the performance of full-scale production batteries under extreme weather and customer use cases, speeding implementation in future vehicles.
Ford this year announced its commitment to invest at least $22 billion through 2025 to deliver connected, electrified vehicles – starting with EV versions of its most popular nameplates. In North America, the Ford Mustang Mach-E already has found early sales success, the all-electric Ford Transit is set to go on sale late this year, and the all-electric F-150 is planned for a mid-2022 launch. In Europe, Ford is moving to an all-electric lineup by 2030 – with its commercial vehicle range to be 100% zero-emissions capable (all-electric or plug-in hybrid) by 2024. Ford also is investing $1 billion in a new EV manufacturing center in Cologne to build a high-volume, all-electric passenger vehicle for European customers, beginning in 2023.
In China, Ford is preparing to produce the Mustang Mach-E for local customers later this year. The automaker recently announced the establishment of a BEV division with a direct sales model and network that will reach 20 major cities across the region, also set to launch this year. Additionally, Ford has partnered with China’s State Grid and NIO to offer EV customers access to more than 300,000 public charging stations (of which 160,000 are fast charging) in more than 340 cities across the country.