Ford and SK On get $9.2B government loan for battery plant

Ford and SK On will receive a $9.2 billion government loan for their BlueOval SK battery joint venture, according to a report Thursday from The New York Times.

The Department of Energy loan—the largest so far by the Biden administration related to EV manufacturing—will help finance construction of battery plants in Kentucky and Tennessee.

Ford announced the plants in 2021, quoting a record $11.4 billion investment and the creation of nearly 11,000 new jobs at the two mammoth manufacturing complexes. The automaker and SK On said in 2021 that the BlueOval SK joint venture would target 60 gigawatt-hours of annual battery cell production by the middle of the decade.

BlueOvalSK Battery Park - rendering, September 2021

BlueOvalSK Battery Park – rendering, September 2021

The plans include Blue Oval City, in west Tennessee, and BlueOval SK Battery Park, with twin battery plants at the same site, in central Kentucky. Ford said in 2021 that it would build both complexes, and planned to have them operational by 2025.

Blue Oval City encompasses not only a battery plant, but also a supplier park and vehicle assembly plant that will produce electric trucks, including the next-generation F-150 Lightning

. SK On is already manufacturing cells for the current-generation Lightning in Georgia.

The BlueOval SK Battery Park complex in central Kentucky will consist of two battery plants producing cells for future Ford and Lincoln EVs.

BlueOvalSK Battery Park - rendering, September 2021

BlueOvalSK Battery Park – rendering, September 2021

In addition to the BlueOval SK complexes, Ford in February announced a deal with CATL for a $3.5 billion battery plant in Marshall, Michigan. The automaker also continues to assemble the Mustang Mach-E in Mexico using LG cells sourced from a factory in Poland.

The Energy Department loan is the largest so far under a revived program once used by the Obama administration to fund Tesla, Nissan, and Ford, among others, but ignored by the Trump administration. Under President Biden, the Energy Department has extended a $2 billion loan to Tesla veteran JB Straubel’s Redwood Materials battery-recycling company

and a $2.5 billion loan to General Motors’ Ultium Cells LLC battery joint venture with LG.