Thursday, August 5, 2021

Ford to open $100 million battery plant in Romulus

Romulus will become the home of the new, $100 million Ford Motor Co. global battery research and development center, Ford Ion Park.

The decision to move to Romulus was announced by Ford officials last week and characterized as an acceleration of the automaker's “research and development of battery and battery cell technology.” The former A123 Systems 270,000 square-foot facility located at 38100 Ecorse Road will be refurbished by Ford and take advantage of the remaining five years of tax abatement under the Renaissance Zone designation. A123 Systems was granted approval of a 15-year renaissance zone by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. in 2010. That designation allows companies to operate free of all state and local taxes during the term of the agreement. The remaining five years of the designation is estimated to total about $1 million in tax abatements.

The A123 Systems plant was one of the largest electrode battery plants in North America and the building already features a complete anode/cathode processing line with material mixing, roll slitting, coating, drying, packaging, and solvent recovery systems, according to the A123 Systems website. 

The Ford facility will bring about 200 engineering, research and other jobs to Romulus, according to a statement from the company and renovations should be complete in about 18 months.

 “Ford already is delivering on our plan to lead the electric revolution with strong new vehicles including Mustang Mach-E, 2022 E-Transit available late 2021 and the 2022 F-150 Lightning available from spring next year,” said Anand Sankaran, Ford Ion Park director. “The new lab will help Ford speed up the battery development process to deliver even more capable, affordable batteries and is part of Ford's renewed commitment to making Michigan a centerpiece of its focus on EVs.

 “We are thankful for the support of the MEDC and the Michigan Strategic Fund in helping establish Ford Ion Park in Romulus,” said Sankaran.  

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also praised the new Romulus plant location.

“Ford's investment in battery research and development in Romulus will support hundreds of good-paying jobs, attract innovative talent to Michigan, and help us continue leading the world in advanced mobility and manufacturing,” she said in a statement. “Ford is an American icon that has left its mark on the world over a century, and with the research that will take place at Ford Ion Park, they will shape the next century while reducing emissions and accelerating electrification.”

The project represents $100 million of a total $185 million investment Ford Motor Co. officials pledged earlier this year for the development, testing and manufacture of battery cells and cell arrays.