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Future of $3.5 billion factory uncertain after Ford pauses revolutionary project: 'There are a number of considerations'

The project would inhabit a 950-acre site and employ roughly 2,500 people.

The project would inhabit a 950-acre site and employ roughly 2,500 people.

Photo Credit: iStock

In February 2023, Ford announced an ambitious project: a $3.5 billion factory to produce batteries for its expanding line of electric vehicles. Now, that project has been put on hold, CNN reports.

What's happening?

The original plan was to open the plant by 2026, CNN explains. It would inhabit a 950-acre site near Marshall, Mich., and employ roughly 2,500 people.

Now, that project has been frozen. "We're pausing work and limiting spending on construction on the Marshall project until we're confident about our ability to competitively operate the plant," Ford spokesman T.R. Reid told CNN in an emailed statement, which also clarified that no final decision has been made about whether the plant will be completed. "There are a number of considerations," he added.

Why is the pause a bad sign?

While CNN says that Ford has not acknowledged what the specific considerations are, a likely contender is the ongoing labor dispute with the United Auto Workers (UAW), which has concerns that the shift to EVs without negotiation will result in lower pay and fewer jobs.

UAW President Shawn Fain certainly sees the halt on construction as a response to the strike. In a statement posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, Fain said, "This is a shameful, barely-veiled threat by Ford to cut jobs. Closing 65 plants over the last 20 years wasn't enough for the Big Three; now they want to threaten us with closing plants that aren't even open yet. We are simply asking for a just transition to electric vehicles and Ford is instead doubling down on their race to the bottom."

EVs have been growing in popularity, recently expanding to make up 10% of new car sales worldwide. Companies that had never focused on EVs before, including Ford, have begun to place more emphasis on these increasingly affordable, consumer-friendly, environmentally responsible vehicles — and it's a good thing, too, because a widespread shift to less polluting vehicles is necessary to protect the planet.

However, if large companies like Ford can't line up the labor and facilities to make it happen, it will be harder for humanity to adopt EVs on a broad scale. We'll have to rely on polluting, gas-powered vehicles for longer, putting more heat-trapping gases and toxic fumes into our atmosphere while costing consumers more money for fuel.

What's being done to move battery production forward?

Customers looking for a Ford EV will still have options. As CNN reports, Ford also announced plants in Kentucky and Tennessee. The company intends to increase its capacity to produce 2 million EVs worldwide by 2026.

Meanwhile, there is still hope for the Michigan plant, especially if Ford and the UAW can reach an agreement.

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