Ford Motor Company CEO Jim Farley has flipped his company’s stance on whether it will produce EV battery cells for its electric cars. After previous CEO Jim Hackett stated that Tesla’s strategy to produce its own lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles had “no advantage,” Farley seems to recognize the positives of manufacturing cells and says it is “absolutely” interested in utilizing the same methods as the world’s leading electric automaker.
Farley was speaking during a recent automotive conference hosted by Reuters when he was asked about Ford’s strategy for sourcing batteries and cell materials. After a question that pointed toward Ford’s potential to produce its own cells instead of sourcing them from third-party suppliers, Farley replied, “Absolutely, we’re discussing it as a team.”
One might think that Ford would wait to see how its first electric vehicles do in terms of sales figures and demand, but Farley believes that there is enough evidence to begin discussing the matter now. “We think that it’s a natural time now because our volume is really growing,” he said.
With Ford announcing the most recent addition to its planned fleet of electric cars last Thursday when it introduced the E-Transit van, it now has plans to produce three all-electric vehicles, as the Mustang Mach-E and the E F-150 pickup joined the van. Ultimately, the decision to produce its own cells in one of its production facilities will bring down costs as sourcing materials and building the batteries will cut expenses. However, Farley is much more interested in avoiding supply constraints instead of worrying about the price.
“There’s a lot of other reasons beyond cost to make a move,” Farley added during the conference. Admitting that “there’s not a lot of flexibility to increase capacity from third-party suppliers for batteries,” Farley said, according to CNBC, Ford may be expecting a more committed move toward electrification. As more automakers plan to enter the EV market, many companies will likely source their EV batteries from suppliers like Panasonic, making less available and thus increasing costs. This will likely force carmakers to increase their vehicles’ prices, making EVs less affordable across the board for consumers.
Being one of the biggest car companies globally, Ford would likely see more advantages than disadvantages if it decides to create its own cells. Not only would it see lower prices, but it would avoid the supply constraints, which would inevitably delay the production and delivery of vehicles.
This is not the first time a legacy automaker has first criticized Tesla, only to reverse their stance later on. General Motors once stated that Tesla was “graveyard-bound” because of its production strategies. A few years later, GM drew inspiration for a million-mile battery cell, similar to what Tesla has chased after several years.