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Michigan has been marketing its marquee, 1,900-acre megasite in Calhoun County near I-69 and I-94 — some 10 miles east of Battle Creek. Michigan has been marketing its marquee, 1,900-acre megasite in Calhoun County near I-69 and I-94 — some 10 miles east of Battle Creek. MEDC SCREENSHOT

Ford set to announce $3.5 billion EV battery plant in Marshall, sources say

BY Kurt Nagl & David Eggert, Crain’s Detroit Business Saturday, February 11, 2023 09:54am

Ford Motor Co. will announce Monday details of a massive electric vehicle battery plant it has decided to build in Marshall, two people with knowledge of the company's plans told Crain’s.

The Dearborn-based automaker is scheduled to hold a news event at Ford Ion Park in Romulus on Monday afternoon, according to an advisory from Ford sent Friday.

The event will be centered on how Ford “is working to scale EVs quickly and, ultimately, make them more accessible to customers,” Ford said in the advisory.

The announcement will include details about the $3.5 billion factory and 2,500 new jobs in Marshall, the two officials told Crain’s.

The state has offered to provide roughly $1 billion in incentives, one of the people said. That includes a $210 million Critical Industry Program grant from Michigan’s Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve Fund, known as SOAR; a Renaissance Zone property tax break worth $772 million; and a $36 million loan.

The SOAR Fund has $211 million that is not spoken for. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer this week called for adding $800 million quickly as part of her budget proposal, along with up to $1.5 billion more over three fiscal years in a tax-cut plan pending in the Senate.

The Michigan Strategic Fund Board scheduled a special meeting Monday to consider the project's incentives package.

“Several Ford executives will be part of the briefing and go more in-depth on the plans,” the Ford advisory said of the automaker’s event Monday. A Ford spokesman declined to comment beyond the advisory.

While the automaker has not confirmed details of the project, Michigan has been competing for a $3.5 billion lithium iron phosphate factory planned by Ford and Chinese battery giant Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd.

The plant would be near the intersection of I-69 and I-94, both key commercial corridors.

The project would transform a small town in south-central Michigan, some 10 miles from Battle Creek, that has suffered population and job loss in recent years.

Landing the plant also represents redemption of a sort for Michigan in its quest to maintain automotive dominance. Ford sent shock waves through the state in 2021 when it announced that it would be venturing away from home to invest $11 billion in EV plants and create thousands of jobs in Kentucky and Tennessee.

The Ford-CATL plant has not been without controversy.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin said last month that he removed his state from consideration for the factory — Michigan’s only publicly known competitor for the plant — because it would serve as a “Trojan horse” for China into the U.S., helping the Far East bolster its EV battery dominance and spread its influence.

Ford has not detailed the exact makeup of its partnership with CATL, but a source close to the plan said it would be unlike a traditional joint venture in that Ford would own the plant with employees on its payroll, while CATL would provide battery technology and expertise.

Ford is looking to increase its annual global EV production to 600,000 vehicles by late 2023 and 2 million by 2026 as it looks to gain ground on EV market leader Tesla.

Other automakers are also rushing to set up new plants to support a rapid expansion of EV production.

General Motors Co. announced last year it would invest $6.5 billion for electric vehicle projects in Orion Township and the Lansing suburb of Delta Township.

Stellantis NV’s move last year to invest more than $2.5 billion and create 1,400 new jobs for an EV plant in Kokomo, Ind., also was a blow to Michigan, but the automaker is searching for a home for another battery plant.

Michigan is in play for it, and an announcement is expected in the second quarter, a Stellantis spokeswoman confirmed.

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. has said it is aggressively competing for other large battery and semiconductor projects.

“Michigan is always talking to Ford and any of our large employers,” MEDC CEO Quentin Messer told Crain’s last month. “We talk in general about making sure that Michigan remains a competitive environment for opportunity.”

From Crain’s Detroit Business

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