Ford To Spend Billions Building Michigan Electric Battery Factory That Relies On Chinese Intellectual Property

REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

Alexander Pease Contributor
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American auto-maker Ford Motor Co. announced Monday that it plans to erect a multi-billion-dollar electric vehicle (EV) battery factory in Michigan and that the facility will rely on Chinese technology.

The new factory reflects a corporate focus on EVs backed by a partnership with the Chinese company Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd (CATL), the world’s largest producer of lithium iron phosphate batteries. Ford is set to break ground on the facility approximately 100 miles west of Detroit in the town of Marshall, Michigan, E&E News reported.

The facility will manufacture nickel cobalt manganese as well as lithium iron phosphate batteries geared toward powering future electrified Ford models by 2026. (RELATED: Ford To Lay Off Thousands To Bankroll ‘Green’ Transition: REPORT)

The supporting technology that will be used to create the cylindrical cells for the lithium iron phosphate EV batteries is classified as intellectual property solely owned by CATL. (RELATED: Biden’s EV Push Could End Up Costing Taxpayers Four Times More Than Advertised)

In addition to owning the rights to the key technology that the Ford battery production will be oriented around, CATL is also “contracted to provide some additional services” pertaining to Ford’s most recent investment into expanding EV battery production, E&E News reported.

The New York Times reported in Dec. 2021 that although CATL is not a state-owned company, a number of its investors have ties to powerful figures within the Chinese Communist Party regime. The Times also noted that Hunter Biden was a board member and shareholder for BHR, a Chinese private equity firm that was an early investor in CATL.

Lisa Drake, Ford’s vice president of EV industrialization efforts, told reporters in a press call that the plug-in sector of the automotive industry is a “very global marketplace” and that Ford is not the first company to embrace the foreign lithium iron phosphate technology on American soil. (RELATED: ‘Crime Against Humanity’: UN Finally Confirms China’s Forced Labor Camps For Uyghurs) 

U.S. lawmakers have also raised concerns about cooperating with China amid widespread reports of state-sponsored forced labor and genocide taking place in the Uyghur population in China’s Xinjiang region.

CATL co-owns a recently registered lithium processing company in the region called Xinjiang Zhicun Lithium Industry Co., which touted itself on becoming among the largest lithium carbonate producers in the global economy, according to research published in a Dec. 2022 investigative report.

In 2021, Congress passed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, a measure that prohibited Americans from importing goods assembled in Xinjiang.

Ford Motor Co. initially took steps build the battery plant in Virginia, but Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin blocked the proposal. After a Ford announcement event Monday, Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer told reporters she found the new project “thrilling,” the Detroit Free Press reported. (RELATED: Jake Tapper Confronts TikTok Lobbyist Over China’s Uyghur Genocide)

Drake attributed the decision to build the battery factory to the EV tax-breaks included in the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act. “I think the IRA was incredibly important for us, and, frankly, it did what it intended to do and it allowed the United States to capture 2,500 fantastic technical jobs and all the indirect jobs that go with it, as well as the future growth,” Drake said.