The United States is not yet ready to compete with China in the production of electric vehicles (EVs), Ford Motor Executive Chairman Bill Ford told CNN in an interview on Sunday.
“They developed very quickly, and they developed them in large scale. And now they’re exporting them,” Ford told CNN’s ‘Fareed Zakaria GPS’ Sunday programme.
“They’re not here but they’ll come here we think, at some point, we need to be ready, and we’re getting ready,” Ford said.
Bill Ford, who is the great-grandson of company founder Henry Ford, also addressed criticism from US senators like Marco Rubio, who have objected to the automaker’s plans to partner with Chinese battery company CATL on a $3.5 billion EV battery plant in Michigan.
Ford said the plant was wholly focused on building manufacturing capacity in the US. Partnering with China’s CATL was aligned with the objectives of the Biden Administration’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), he added.
“It [Michigan] is a wholly owned Ford facility. They’ll be our employees, and all we’re doing is licensing the technology. That’s it,” he said.
Ford said the Michigan battery plant is a chance for the automaker’s engineers to learn the technology and then use it themselves.
“We’ll understand how CATL makes the batteries but also prepares them to be integrated into the vehicle… that’s really important that our engineers gain that knowledge so we can eventually do it ourselves,” Ford said.
Ford CEO Jim Farley said in May that Chinese electric vehicle makers are its main rivals in the sector. He added that Ford needs distinctive branding or lower costs to beat Chinese automakers.
“I think we see the Chinese as the main competitor, not GM or Toyota. The Chinese are going to be the powerhouse,” Farley said.
- Reuters, with additional inputs from Vishakha Saxena