Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a rumored Republican candidate for president, vetoed a Ford battery factory investment sought by Michigan and Virginia that would have generated around 2,500 jobs. The crux of why Youngkin stopped the batteries project was his objections to the involvement of a Chinese partner.
Youngkin spokeswoman Macaulary Porter said in an email to the Richman Times-Dispatch, “while Ford is an iconic American company, it became clear that this proposal would sever as a front for the Chinese Communist Party, which could compromise our economic security and Virginians’ personal privacy.” She adds, “The plant proposal never reached a final discussion stage when the potentially damaging repercussions of the deal were revealed.”
The home state of the automaker, Michigan, would have suffered another setback if the project had advanced in Virginia. When Ford announced plans in September 2021 to invest more than $11 billion in EV and battery production in Tennessee and Kentucky despite a rising tide of auto investment in the south and southeast, it shocked Lansing’s political class and business leaders.
But after Youngkin turned down the proposal in December, it might have cost at least 2,500 jobs in one of Virginia’s poorest areas. According to The Times-Dispatch, the facility would have produced lithium iron phosphate batteries for Ford’s electric vehicles- a move that would have aided in reducing the reliance on battery minerals such as nickel and cobalt.
However, Ford’s effort to strengthen its EV supply chain has also included locking down deals with suppliers and localizing battery cell production through joint ventures. Ford aims to produce 600,000 electric vehicles globally by the end of this year and 2 million internationally by 2026.
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