The Ford Motor Co. gave the auto industry a shake on Monday by announcing that it planned to spend $ 11.4 billion on new production sites in Tennessee and Kentucky, where it plans to build pickup trucks and electric cars – and the batteries to power them – on a huge climb.
It will also create 11,000 jobs in the two states that struggled to recover from the collapse of the coal industry.
The boldness of Ford’s massive investment in electric vehicles has not escaped Ford’s executive chairman Bill Ford.
“If my great-grandfather had seen our industry five years ago, it would be very recognizable to him, it hadn’t changed much,” he said of Ford founder Henry Ford, in an interview with Tom Costello of “NBC Nightly News.”
“There have been a lot of evolutions, but no revolutions. We are now at the dawn of a revolution. It’s not just electrification, although that’s a huge part of it. “
It is also a chance, Ford said in a statement, “to achieve goals once considered mutually exclusive – to protect our planet, to build great electric vehicles that Americans will love and to help our country prosper.”
Of those new jobs, 6,000 are for what’s known as the Blue Oval City Campus in Stanton, Tennessee, a $ 5.6 billion mega-campus where electric versions of the popular F-Series pickup truck will be made, as well. only electric batteries.
This new assembly plant “is designed to be carbon neutral with zero waste to landfill when fully operational,” Ford said in a statement.
“This is a watershed moment for the Tennessee as we lead the future of the automotive industry and advanced manufacturing,” said Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican.
The remaining 5,000 new jobs are headed to Glendale, Ky. And the $ 5.8 billion BlueOvalSK Battery Park, where batteries to power “next-generation Ford and Lincoln electric vehicles.” will be manufactured at two campus sites from 2025.
“This is the largest investment in the history of our state,” said Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat. “We will never again be considered a state of overflight. Our time now. Our future now.
Ford said the United States did not have a large battery manufacturing industry, and there was a reason his company decided to establish a “beachhead” in two states where coal was once king. .
“The only thing that has drawn us to Tennessee and Kentucky as well is the workforce,” he said. “They both have a very good workforce and are ready to be trained to do this jobs and that was an important consideration.”
Tennessee and Kentucky are so-called right-to-work states where workers are not required to join unions as a condition of employment.
The company is also setting aside an additional $ 525 million to train technicians across the country who will work to maintain its new fleet of electric vehicles. Of that training money, $ 90 million will be spent in Texas alone.
Ford has forecast that by 2030, about 40 percent of its company’s vehicles will be electric. He has vowed to make skeptics believe that switching internal combustion engines to electric will mean sacrificing horsepower.
“I actually don’t think it will be that hard once, once they see what these vehicles can do,” said Ford. “For example, they’re faster than lightning, so to put it bluntly, they’re very fast, faster than anything out there.”
The new battery-powered Ford Mustang Mach-E, which can go from zero to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds, is going to be road tested by Michigan State Police, he said.
Plus, Ford said, there are some things an electric vehicle can do that a gasoline-powered vehicle cannot.
“For example, it could be a back-up generator for your home,” he said. “If you lose power, you plug your house into your (F-150) Lightning and you can power your house for up to three days. Also, it can be a portable generator on the job site.
Costello asked Ford what his great-grandfather would think of “your new Model T for the 21st century”.
“I think he would say, ‘What took you so long? “” Ford replied.