The facility will produce Nickel Cobalt Manganese cathode active materials for Ford’s future EVs and produce up to 45,000 tonnes of CAM per year.

With demand for EVs climbing, Ford has partnered with South Korea’s SK On and EcoProBM to build a cathode manufacturing facility to power Ford’s future EVs with battery materials in Québec.

The new plant marks Ford’s first investment in the region and is part of the OEMs wider objective of localising key battery raw materials processing operations in closer proximity to its EV production hubs.

The Québec site will have the capacity to produce up to 45,000 tonnes of Cathode Active Materials (CAM) per annum and is set to begin production in the first half of 2026.

Bev Goodman, president and CEO, Ford of Canada commented: “Ford has been serving customers in Canada for 119 years, longer than any other automaker, and we’re excited to invest in this new facility to create a vertically integrated, closed-loop battery manufacturing supply chain in North America designed to help make electric vehicles more accessible for millions of people over time.

“We’re excited for the opportunity for our first-ever investment in Québec with a new facility that will help shape the EV ecosystem there.”

The CAM for rechargeable batteries will be manufactured by EcoPro CAM Canada LP, and consist of high-quality Nickel Cobalt Manganese (NCM); a type of lithium-ion cathode known for its improved performance levels and enhanced EV range compared to existing products.

“There is an intentional need that we need to develop an alternate network or alliance of not only the mining, but also the processing so that we’ve got a good, strong, resilient value chain.”

Construction has already begun on the 280,000 sq.m site and will include a six-floor building that will house approximately 345 new positions including engineers to meet demand.

EcoPro CAM Canada LP also will pursue R&D activities aiming at increasing battery safety and performance as well as productivity and minimising the environmental footprint of its manufacturing process.

The regional significance of the Québec Cathode site: domesticating EV supply chains

Ford has several EV manufacturing facilities in North America, including BlueOval City in Tennessee, the BlueOval SK Battery Park in Kentucky, and the Oakville Assembly Plant in Ontario, Canada. The localisation of battery cell production in the region has important manufacturing, as well as supply chain and logistical benefits.

GM’s global purchasing chief, Jeff Morrison, recently spoke to AMS’ sister-publication, Automotive Logistics (AL), concerning supply chain management and regional investments to bolster geographical effectiveness in answer to the EV battery supply chain dominance in other regions. In that interview, it was revealed that GM, “has identified a higher risk, in limited battery materials processing, which is highly concentrated in Asia and especially China, with a limited number of suppliers for battery grade materials that go into key components like cathodes and anodes.”

It was for this reason that GM has signed “important agreements with companies like Posco and LG Chem on cathode materials, as well as further contracts for nickel sulphate, manganese sulphate, and a range of lithium processing projects in the US and South America. GM is also one of the first OEMs to develop rare earth materials to attract EV magnet producers to the US.”

Ford’s latest investment in Québec is inadvertently a recognition of the concentration of battery component production in competitive regions, and a strategic move to offset this control.

Morrison states: “There is an intentional need that we need to develop an alternate network or alliance of not only the mining, but also the processing so that we’ve got a good, strong, resilient value chain.”

Ford, along with SK On will finalise investment once the deal is closed, with the joint venture subject to closing conditions and regulatory approvals.

Don’t miss Ford’s Leonel Leal (Head of Vehicle Advanced Process and Innovation Strategy) and Paul Stephens (Manufacturing Transformation Lead) speak at the first ever and highly anticipated Automotive Evolution North America conference. October 16-17, 2023 | The Henry Hotel, Dearborn, MI