USA: LPO announces conditional loan for BlueOval SK
The US American government wants to financially support Ford and SK On, announcing a conditional commitment for a loan of up to $9.2 billion. The two companies want to set up three battery manufacturing plants in the US.
The latter will be built by Blue Oval SK, a joint venture between Ford and SK Innovation. Two factories are under construction in the US state of Kentucky and another in Tennessee. When construction kicked off in 2022, about $5.6 billion had been earmarked for BlueOval City in Tennessee alone. In Kentucky, both partners are reportedly investing a combined $5.8 billion.
The money comes from the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Loan Programs Office (LPO). The DOE stresses that this is a conditional loan and that “several steps remain for the project to reach critical milestones, and certain conditions must be satisfied”. It does not go into detail about what these conditions are.
The three battery plants will have a total capacity of 129 GWh and create some 7,500 jobs when production begins in 2025 – less than what Ford announced last year. In 2022, the carmaker said that the Kentucky plants were to create “5,000 all-new, high-tech BlueOval SK jobs”, while the factory in Tennessee “will create approximately 6,000 new jobs”.
Ford plans to produce up to half a million all-electric pickup trucks (codenamed T3) at its BlueOval City plant in Tennessee. The site will therefore play an essential role in achieving Ford’s goal of increasing electric vehicle production to a total of two million units per year by the end of 2026.