The Ford plant in Tenn. could make 500,000 electric pickups a year

SANTON, Tenn. – Ford said Friday that its assembly plant under construction in western Tennessee will be able to build up to 500,000 electric pickup trucks a year at full capacity, part of the automaker’s ambition to build 2 million worldwide by the end of the day electric vehicles to be produced per year by 2026.

The company made the announcement as it provided updates on the so-called BlueOval City project at an event attended by Ford executives, project leaders, politicians and residents living near the sprawling Tennessee site.

The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker announced in September 2021 the project that would build the truck manufacturing plant and a battery plant on 1,460 acres in rural Stanton, located in Haywood County, northeast of Memphis. Known as the Memphis Regional Megasite, the land designated by the state for industrial development lay unused for years before Ford moved in.

Ford’s assembly plant and South Korean battery maker SK On’s battery plant will employ about 6,000 people with an investment of about $5.6 billion, Ford said.

The joint venture will also build dual battery plants in Glendale, Kentucky, with an estimated investment of $5.8 billion. The projects are expected to create more than 10,800 jobs and shift the automaker’s future manufacturing footprint southward while emphasizing green energy.

Construction on the Tennessee site began last year. Ford plans to begin production by 2025, and that schedule will remain in place, company officials said

Construction is about 50 percent complete, said Donna Langford, Ford project manager. Media members joining a bus tour of the site in the rain on Friday saw steel skeletons of the massive, partially built structures that will house the battery factory and truck assembly plant. Once completed, the site will also include a Tennessee Valley Authority substation to power the plants, and a Tennessee College of Applied Technology, where staff training will take place.

The automaker said its second-generation electric truck is “codenamed Project T3,” and Ford CEO Jim Farley praised the truck’s simplified design and high-performance technology.

Ford did not release any images of the new truck at the event, but did release colorful drawings by Tennessee schoolchildren with suggestions for the design, including some of the trucks that would fly.

In reference to the fast and tough Star Wars ship, Farley said the new truck “will be like the Millennium Falcon, with a back porch attached.”

Speaking to reporters, Farley acknowledged that the Tennessee truck plant would be the most environmentally friendly new plant Ford has ever built.

“Not even close,” said Farley, later adding that “this is another industrial revolution about clean, carbon-neutral manufacturing.”

Ford says the plant is designed to be the first carbon-neutral vehicle production campus. It will have a 30% smaller overall assembly footprint than traditional plants by simplifying sub-assemblies and reducing the number of stations on the line, Farley said.

“We shrunk the plant because we have less people, we have fewer stations,” Farley said.

Ford also said it will use recovered energy from the site to provide carbon-free heat to the assembly plant and conserve water by reducing evaporation from the site’s cooling towers.

Before the Ford project launched, Tennessee had invested more than $174 million in the unused Memphis megasite. Tennessee lawmakers have pledged to spend nearly $900 million on government stimulus, infrastructure upgrades and more as part of a sweeping plan with Ford. The deal included $500 million in capital grants.

The lease essentially grants the land to Ford until December 2051. The rent is $1 for the entire rental period.

Some rural West Tennessee counties around the plant hope it will help boost their economies.

With an economy based largely on agriculture, Haywood County saw its population shrink 4.9% from 2010 to 2020 to 17,864 people, one of 14 counties to lose population while Tennessee as a whole grew 8.9%, according to census data .

The factory is expected to attract both small and large businesses to the area, including hotels, restaurants, healthcare facilities and suppliers to the factory. Real estate values ​​could also rise.

Ford leaders have pledged to help communities near the plant. The Ford Motor Company Fund announced Friday that it has awarded 17 grants of $75,000 to $100,000 each to fire departments, arts and park conservation groups, a community center, local governments and other organizations in six counties.

The $1.2 million grant program received 200 applications, said Mary Culler, president of the Ford Motor Company Fund.

“Those are the kinds of grass-roots, capital projects that these cities and towns are looking for,” Culler said.

As it seeks to develop its workforce in Tennessee, Ford said it has begun a talent development program that will support STEM education in K-12 schools, bring advanced manufacturing education to schools and expand certification, dual enrollment and internship opportunities for students.


AP Auto Writer Tom Krisher contributed to this story from Detroit.





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