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Ford developing LFP batteries for electric vehicles

Are more affordable electric vehicles on the way from Ford with cheaper-to-produce batteries?

During a recent QA session, CEO Jim Farley indicated Ford is working on implementing lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries in its first-generation of electric vehicles (EVs), which include the Mustang Mach-E, F-150 Lightning and E-Transit.

“Yes. We’ve been working on LFP for quite some time, so let’s just leave it at that,” said Mr Farley.

“What I mean by that is engineering LFP solutions in our first generation of products is something that we see as a big opportunity to move quickly.”

  • Ford developing LFP batteries for electric vehicles Mustang Mach-E

This LFP battery chemistry is traditionally cheaper and safer than nickel-based batteries, but the cells are less energy dense, which means they offer a shorter range.

That could potentially point to their use in entry-level variants.

LFP batteries are also able to be regularly charged to 100 per cent without risking the long-term lifespan of the battery, but they aren’t as efficient in colder weather.

They’re therefore seen as best suited to standard-range cars, heavy commercial vehicles and energy storage systems.

It’s unclear at this stage where Ford would mass-produce these LFP batteries, but China is currently a specialist in the development and manufacturing of LFP batteries.

  • Ford developing LFP batteries for electric vehicles F-150 Lightning

Tesla previously announced it’s shifting to LFP batteries globally in its smaller standard-range vehicles, which include the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y.

The LFP battery used in the Model 3 and Y are currently supplied by Chinese battery giant, CATL, that has numerous manufacturing plants throughout China and one plant located in Erfurt, Germany.

Besides Tesla, CATL currently produces batteries for a number of well-known automakers including BMW, Honda, Volvo and the Volkswagen Group.

One main reason why LFP batteries aren’t commonly produced outside of China is due to a slew of patents, which has allowed the country to corner the LFP market.

  • Ford developing LFP batteries for electric vehicles E-Transit

It’s also unclear at this stage if the introduction of LFP batteries to Ford EVs would allow the Blue Oval to produce the vehicles at a faster pace.

With a total of 200,000 reservations already for the F-150 Lightning, Ford is currently aiming to ramp its annual production rate for the electric pick-up to 150,000 in 2023.

Currently, the Ford F-150 Lightning is sold out until 2023 at least.

MORE: Electric car battery chemistry: What’s the difference?

  • Ford developing LFP batteries for electric vehicles E-Transit Custom

While the Mustang Mach-E and F-150 Lightning remain off-limits to Australia thus far, Ford Australia will introduce its first EV this year in the E-Transit.

Ford Australia has announced it plans to introduce five electrified vehicles by the end of 2024, including the E-Transit and E-Transit Custom electric vans, and the Escape plug-in hybrid.

It has yet to confirm what the others will be. In addition to the Mustang Mach-E already available overseas, Ford has indicated a Ranger plug-in hybrid is in the works, and confirmed it will launch seven pure-electric vehicles in Europe by 2024.

MORE: 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning enters production, already sold out MORE: Ford Australia bringing five electrified vehicles by 2024