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Ford accelerates battery research & development

Ford Ion Park, the new global battery centre of excellence from Ford, is set to accelerate research and development of battery and battery cell technology – including future battery manufacturing.

The brand says it is building on nearly two decades of battery expertise by centralising a cross-functional team of 150 experts in battery technology development, research, manufacturing, planning, purchasing, quality and finance to help Ford more quickly develop and manufacture battery cells and batteries.

“We’re already scaling production of all-electric vehicles around the world as more customers experience and crave the fun-to-drive benefits of electric vehicles with zero emissions,” says Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s chief product platform and operations officer. “Investing in more battery R&D ultimately will help us speed the process to deliver more, even better, lower cost EVs for customers over time.”

The Ford Ion Park team also is exploring better integration and innovation opportunities across all aspects of the value chain – from mines to recycling – working with all teams within Ford, including experts at Ford’s new battery benchmarking and test laboratory, Ford customer service division, plus key suppliers and partners.

Based in Michigan, this 200,000 square foot learning lab will include pilot-scale equipment for electrode, cell and array design and manufacturing and will use state-of-the-art technology to pilot new manufacturing techniques that will allow Ford to quickly scale breakthrough battery cell designs with novel materials once the company vertically integrates battery cells and batteries.

The Ford Ion Park team will apply customer insights to optimise battery technologies that deliver the performance and capability truck, utility, commercial vehicle and fleet owners value most. That means creating distinct batteries and technologies to deliver meaningful towing and off-road capability for truck customers as well as stop-and-go driving efficiency for fleet operators in cities worldwide.

Ford’s battery benchmarking and test laboratory, which opened late last year, has 150 test chambers and 325 channels for development work. Experts at the $100 million, 185,000 sq ft lab already have analysed more than 150 types of battery cells.

The lab houses battery cell and pack test rooms, test benches and benchmarking facilities to support battery cell design validation, controls calibration, pack development and pilot battery pack projects with different chemistries.

The lab team can replicate the performance of full-scale production batteries under extreme weather and customer use cases, speeding implementation in future vehicles, Ford says.

In Europe, Ford is moving to an all-electric line-up by 2030, with its commercial vehicle range 100 per cent zero-emissions capable – all-electric or plug-in hybrid – by 2024. Ford also is investing $1 billion in a new electric vehicle manufacturing centre in Cologne to build a high-volume all-electric passenger vehicle for European customers starting in 2023.