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Ford bags $9.2 bn loan for battery plants, but plans layoffs in ICE unit

Once ready, the plant in Tennessee (pictured) and two others in Kentucky will have a combined annual production capacity of 120 gigawatt hours. Image Courtesy: BlueOval SK

The US Department of Energy is lending $9.2 billion to a joint venture of between Ford and SK to help build three new battery plants in the US, it announced in a press release.

The venture, BlueOval SK, is a partnership between the American carmaker and South Korean battery company SK to manufacture batteries for future Ford electric vehicles, including those sold under the company's Lincoln marquee. It is currently setting up two battery plants in the state of plants in Kentucky and one in Tennessee having a combined annual production capacity of 120 gigawatt hours.

The US DoE estimates vehicles powered by batteries from these factories could displace more than 455 million gallons of fuel a year during their lifetime. It called the loan the largest single federal investment ever made in the automotive industry.

"We're thrilled the Department of Energy joins BlueOval SK in our vision to electrify the future of mobility," BlueOval SK CEO Robert Rhee said in a released statement.

Ford is also working with Chinese battery makers CATL for full LFP battery packs for some of its cars; the two companies are building a plant in Michigan.

Meanwhile, the company with the iconic blue oval logo is planning a new round of layoffs for salaried workers, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people it did not identify.

Ford had last year announced plans to reduce structural costs at its conventional (internal combustion engine) operations by $3 billion, and subsequently announced reduction of 3,000 salaried and contract jobs, largely from North American and Indian operations. 

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