"It's a major development for our company, our community,
and our country," noted Ford chairman William Clay Ford, addressing reporters
at Ford's NAIAS booth.
The news is significant because it solidifies Ford's recent
announcements about electric vehicles. The company had already invested $550
million in the past year to transform its Michigan assembly plant from a large SUV
factory to a production site where it will build the all-new Ford Focus and the
Going forward, Ford said it will bring four hybrids and
electric vehicles to its lineup in the next three years: the Ford Transit
Connect battery electric vehicle (2010); the Ford Focus Electric passenger car
(2011); an unnamed hybrid car based on Ford's C-platform (2012); an unnamed
plug-in hybrid in 2012.
Equally important is Ford's announcement that it will bring
EV battery systems design and development in house. In its facilities, Ford
will design advanced lithium-ion batteries in house and will move production of
the battery packs from Mexico
Ford says that the new engineering and production efforts will create up to
1,000 new jobs in Michigan.
"We believe battery systems development is going to be a
core competency for Ford in the 21st century," Ford said.
Researchers have been working on a number of alternative chemistries to lithium-ion for next-gen batteries, silicon-air among them. However, while the technology has been viewed as promising and cost-effective, to date researchers haven’t managed to develop a battery of this chemistry with a viable running time -- until now.
Norway-based additive manufacturing company Norsk Titanium is building what it says is the first industrial-scale 3D printing plant in the world for making aerospace-grade metal components. The New York state plant will produce 400 metric tons each year of aerospace-grade, structural titanium parts.
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