Ford might establish a new lithium-ion battery cell joint venture with SK Innovation in the U.S., similar to the Ultium Cells joint venture, between GM and LG Chem's LG Energy Solution.

The rumor on the upcoming memorandum of understanding about the joint venture was reported yesterday by Reuters and it's expected that the official announcement will be released today.

"A memorandum of understanding about the joint venture will be announced on Thursday, the sources, who asked not to be identified, told Reuters. The deal may eventually include a jointly owned plant to make battery cells for use in rechargeable EV batteries, the sources said."

Let's recall that SK Innovation is engaged in the Ford F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck project that was unveiled yesterday.

The South Korean manufacturer settled with LG Energy Solution in April (the company will pay $1.8 billion to LGSE) and is probably looking forward to expanding its battery business in North America.

SK Innovation's automotive customers are also Volkswagen (ID.4 project and possibly other MEB-based models). We guess that Ford might be interested in cells for the upcoming Ford E-Transit van and some other models. We guess that SK Innovation will supply battery cells also to Hyundai Motor Group.

The two SK Innovation battery plants in the U.S. (one almost ready and one under construction) are located in Commerce, Georgia:

  • the first: 9.8 GWh was expected to be ready in 2021 (mass production from 2022). According to Bloomberg, it is nearing completion and already making battery samples
  • the second: 11.7 GWh scheduled for 2023

The new joint venture possibly will be located in Michigan (or at least closer to Michigan).

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