Q&A with Manager of Planned Ford Battery Plant in Hardin County | In depth

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Ford plans to build a $5.8 billion, 1,500-acre campus near Interstate 65 in Hardin County which will focus on manufacturing batteries for the next generation of electric vehicles.

The plant will be called BlueOvalSK Battery Park and is initially expected to create around 5,000 new jobs in the area.

On Wednesday, WDRB News reporters discussed plans for the facility with Greg Christensen, director of Ford’s electric vehicle footprint:

Q: What is the latest update on the construction schedule?

Christiansen: “We have the first event associated with this. We are going to be in Elizabethtown (Thursday), holding an event with up to 1,000 potential contractors. There are main construction companies, Martin Mallow and Gray construction will be hosted with a few reps to support an event to really spread information about participating in the project, so it’s really about setting up our process to identify those who are participating, and we’re really focusing on, you know, local vendors and diverse as well and we are looking to start in earnest (Thursday) Securing these contractors and sharing information that as far as moving ground is concerned this will definitely happen this year We are in the process of finalizing the permits We have therefore partnered with government agencies and governments that are within the State of Kentucky to finalize these permits. s and which are in progress, then as soon as those which are approved are opened to start moving land and building foundations. So always the same, this year, we don’t have a revolutionary date. But we’ll be sharing that shortly and we’re excited to have a groundbreaking event here in the near future.”

Q: How do you see the current Ford plants in Louisville involved or co-existing with this battery plant?

Christiansen: “I think in some ways they’re complementary. But they’re also, they’re also quite separate, aren’t they? I mean, this new site in Elizabethtown is dedicated to a joint venture that we’re in completing with SK. And so the operations of that plant will be part of a joint venture called BlueOval SK. And so in that respect they’re separate, you know, right? But, obviously, we we have a great history in Kentucky, you know, we have over 13,000 employees associated with our assembly plants, and they make products that are extremely important to Ford Motor Company, so we have this wonderful history. I would keep those separate in this one is going to be part of the joint venture and those others are true for Ford’s assembly plants.”

Q: How do you envision the supply network for the components that will go into the batteries? Will companies supplying the components set up in the region?

Greg Christensen, director of Ford’s electric vehicle footprint.

Christiansen: “So that was our first step in terms of securing the necessary supply of batteries and, you know, the next step from a battery cell perspective, over a million units of overall capacity. But as you can imagine, you know, we’re looking at all the elements of sourcing and we’ll be with our partner SK to secure the necessary supply we talk often and we have a partnership and working relationship with materials that is a recycling and battery materials company. What is often shared is that most of these materials that you think of, nickel, lithium and cobalt, for example, are found all over the world. And so , like others, we’re really looking at how we can bring some of the processing of materials and things that go into batteries closer to home, so you know, there’s more to do in this space. is that’s something we really think about and think about how we take level two and level three and level four of this process and make sure t we have ample supply of materials needed to make batteries . »

Q: How important are government incentives?

Christiansen: “Incentives are important, you know, a combination of fiscal approaches as well as loans or refundable taxes. Capital grants are essential, but I don’t see approval or any formalization of that as a barrier to our building process. But they’re certainly important, among other things, partnering with the government on training and developing people. The work that we’re trying to move quickly on permits, that’s all critical, but that’s all going pretty well with our expectations.

Q: How important is the recently announced training program for recruiting and hiring workers in the future?

Christiansen: “Yeah, that’s right. That’s essential, and we’re already preparing team members to meet with local leaders at the county level and then obviously with the state and a lot of what we do will be with county leaders and will develop the workforce closest to the site and then you know, work from there. But the nature of operating battery plants is unique. There are unique skills and unique talents needed. And we’re excited to develop, but one of the things you have with a target launch date of 2025, it takes a long time to build so you can actually develop the talent. Some of the talents that will work at this facility, they’re in high school, they’re in trade schools, etc. we don’t take this lightly. We understand that. It’s also an important part of building community, isn’t right? So I’m super excited about the state involvement in this process and also very excited about the local involvement as well.

Q: What changes are expected to be made to the site over the next year?

Christiansen: “Yes, in general terms, once we complete the permitting process, you will see land later in this preparation process that will kick off and we expect that to happen soon. And so we like sites The typography is very supportive of what we want to do, so we don’t have to do an excessive amount of that work, but there’s still some that you’ll see once you see the leveling and the land preparation. Just start seeing infrastructure, initial roads and working with local utilities. Then from there you will see the foundations, the construction of the foundations of these important structures, then later this year or l “Next year you’ll also start to see the buildings themselves being produced. It’s going to be, you know, land preparation, foundations and then buildings and I hope to start that soon.”

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