The tech behind Ford’s £230m UK power investment

October 18, 2021 // By Nick Flaherty
The tech behind Ford’s £230m UK power investment
A £230m decision by Ford to build power systems in the UK is based on seven previous projects, and boosts the chances of a key battery gigafactory

Ford is to base a power systems assembly plant in the UK in a £230m investment.

The e-Drive production plant will be based in Halewood, Merseyside, and is backed by funding from the Automotive Transformation Fund (ATF), following seven collaborative low-carbon research and development projects.

“We know that the insight and capability gained from various APC-supported projects, together with the ATF investment funding from Government to support the transition of its operations, put the Halewood site in a really strong position,” said Julian Hetherington Automotive Transformation Director at the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC).

The deal depends on backing by the UK government which is reported to be £30m.

A decision on a battery manufacturing plant is also due in the next few months. Ford has a joint venture with SK Innovation, which is spinning out its battery business as SK Battery and is reported to be in talks with the UK government on backing for a Gigafactory. Coventry in the West MIdlands is itching heavily for such a site.

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The Ford Halewood site currently produce transmissions for internal combustion engines and will transition to manufacture electric drive units (EDUs). These control all the elements that move the wheels on an electric vehicle, including the speed, torque and direction.

One of APC’s first funded projects in 2013 was with Ford on the EcoBoost engine. Two projects in particular – ViVID and E:PriME – played a major part in today’s announcement. E:PriME enabled Ford to develop a pilot facility for e-Drives in Dagenham, creating processes for the high-volume manufacturing of next-generation low-emission technology that will be in operation in Halewood.

“Our insight has identified more than £24 billion of opportunity in the UK for the EV passenger car market alone and £12bn of this is in power electronics and electric machines,” said Hetherington.

“So, while this is excellent news for the teams we have worked with across Ford UK, it will also benefit the supporting UK supply chain for electronic drive units and could potentially lead to more jobs in British businesses supplying the Halewood site.

Ford is planning for its entire passenger vehicle range in Europe to be all-electric or plug-in hybrid by mid-2026, and will be completely all-electric by 2030 as part of a $22bn global investment. This includes $1bn being spent in Cologne, Germany, to modernise the manufacturing centre. The first European-built, volume all-electric passenger vehicle for European customers will be produced at the facility from 2023 with the potential for a second all-electric vehicle to be built there under consideration.

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