Industry scramble for cheaper battery chemistry upends plans

Ford had planned to start production of its Explorer electric SUV in Germany late last year, but then came the order from CEO Jim Farley himself: wait. 

The six-month pause allowed the company to switch to using lower-cost, higher-durability lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) batteries sourced from China’s CATL.

“It was better to wait half a year and launch with the latest greatest technology,” Jochen Bruckmann, launch leader for final assembly at Ford’s Cologne factory, explained at an event to mark the start of production this week.

Such are the savings unlocked by this newer battery chemistry that entire model programmes, even whole battery plants, are being paused in Europe and the US in the ongoing battle by established car makers to try to match the Chinese on EV costs.

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