By the end of this decade, up to half of the vehicles produced by Ford Motor Co. will be powered by electricity. And electric cooperatives and their members in the Tennessee Valley will help build, sustain and produce the facilities and components essential to meeting that goal.
The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker has committed to building a major automotive assembly plant in western Tennessee and will partner with a South Korean manufacturer to develop battery manufacturing plants to support its domestic electric vehicle production.
“We are moving now to deliver breakthrough electric vehicles for the many rather than the few,” said Jim Farley, Ford president and CEO, who announced the projects Tuesday. “It’s about creating good jobs that support American families, an ultra-efficient, carbon-neutral manufacturing system, and a growing business that delivers value for communities, dealers and shareholders.”
Ford’s new Blue Oval City manufacturing complex will be built near Stanton, Tennessee, about 25 miles east of Memphis and 32 miles west of Jackson. The 6-square-mile site will be powered directly by the Tennessee Valley Authority, but surrounding residential, commercial and industrial developments are served by Brownsville-based Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corp. and Somerville-based Chickasaw Electric Cooperative.
“The scope of this project is unlike anything Tennessee has ever seen,” said Kevin Murphy, CEO of Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corp. and board president of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “This development will have a lasting impact on the communities we serve and all of West Tennessee. We are honored that Ford selected our region for this historic investment, and we are celebrating the exciting opportunities that this will create.”
The $5.6 billion Blue Oval City manufacturing complex is expected to create 5,800 permanent jobs producing Ford’s F-Series electric trucks as well as batteries and other essential components. The facility will anchor an EV industry that’s expected to generate more than 27,000 jobs and add $3.5 billion in annual economic development to Tennessee’s economy.
“The economic opportunities created by a project of this size will benefit Chickasaw Electric, our consumers and all the communities we serve for generations,” said Loyd Muncy, CEO of Chickasaw Electric Cooperative.
The 3,600-acre campus will include vehicle assembly facilities, battery production facilities and an industrial park to support local logistics and cloud-connected supplier operations. Future development at the site could include renewable energy projects harnessing geothermal, solar or wind power.
“Reliable, low-cost, clean energy attracts world-class companies like Ford to the Tennessee Valley,” said Jeff Lyash, CEO of the Tennessee Valley Authority. “Bringing jobs and capital investment to this region is what we do at TVA–it’s a fundamental part of our mission–and by helping to bring companies like Ford to this region, we are creating the jobs of the future.”
More than 32,000 jobs are expected to support construction and development of the site over the next three years, generating about $1.87 billion in salaries annually before the plant begins vehicle production in 2025.
“A major manufacturing facility in this area will transform the economy of West Tennessee and provide high-quality, high-paying jobs for the entire region,” said Tennessee Lt. Gov. Randy McNally.
The Tennessee complex is designed to be carbon neutral with zero waste to send to landfills once it’s fully operational. Wastewater will be treated onsite and scrap generated there will be collected for recycling or processing. Ford has partnered with South Korea-based manufacturer SK Innovations on this project and a second plant slated for development in Kentucky to support its EV battery production and recycling needs.
“West Tennessee is primed to deliver the workforce and quality of life needed to create the next great American success story with Ford Motor Company and SK Innovation,” said Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee. “This is a watershed moment for Tennesseans as we lead the future of the automotive industry and advanced manufacturing.”
Speaking in Memphis on Tuesday, Ford and SK Innovations officials also announced plans to develop the $5.8 billion BlueOvalSK battery manufacturing campus in Glendale, Kentucky. The 1,500-acre site is expected to host two plants capable of generating 43 gigawatt hours of electricity each through production of domestically manufactured batteries for Ford and Lincoln EVs. Those facilities are expected to create 5,000 permanent jobs when they open in 2025.
“This is the single largest investment in the history of our state and this project solidifies our leadership role in the future of the automotive manufacturing industry,” said Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear.”It will transform our economy, creating a better Kentucky, with more opportunities, for our families for generations.”
Derrill Holly is a staff writer for NRECA.