Ford of Europe’s ramped up ‘mobility’ plans announced yesterday included a new JV between South Korean electric vehicle (EV) battery manufacturer SK On, Ford, and its local partner Koc Holding to build a battery plant in Turkey.

The US automaker already has an equal stake joint venture in Turkey with Koc Holding, called Ford Otosan, which produces commercial vehicles including the Transit van. The company has three plants in the country with a combined annual production capacity of 455,000 vehicles, most of which are exported to Europe, as well as engine and transmission plants.

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The new plant will be built near Ankara with an annual capacity of up to 45GWh of high-nickel NCM (nickel, cobalt, manganese) batteries, with construction scheduled to be completed in 2025.

The batteries will be supplied mostly to the Ford Otosan JV’s commercial vehicle plants which are set to add four new electric models to the Transit model line – the Custom one-tonne van and Tourneo Custom multi-purpose vehicle in 2023, and the smaller, next generation Transit Courier van and Tourneo Courier multi-purpose vehicle in 2024. Ford Otosan is also taking over Ford’s Craiova plant in Romania which will build electric versions of the Transit Courier and Tourneo Courier due in 2024.

SK On has forged a close global partnership with Ford with the two companies last year establishing a joint venture called BlueOval SK to jointly invest US$11.5bn to build two EV battery plants in the US with a combined production capacity 140GWh per year.

Ford is looking to accelerate its transformation into an EV manufacturer and recently announced plans to separate its EV business from its conventional vehicle operations in the hope of lifting its market capitalisation to something closer to that of Tesla. It aims to have a global EV battery production capacity of 240GWh in place by 2030.

Ford of Europe chairman Stuart Rowley said in a statement: “This proposed new battery joint venture is a prime example of how we are leveraging strategic partnerships to strengthen our business. It is also the first in a number of significant electrification and commercial vehicle announcements we will make this year as part of the ongoing redesign of our operations to create a leaner, stronger and sustainable all-electric Ford business in Europe.”

SK On said it was speeding up the establishment of global production bases not with both joint ventures with external partners and also by building its own plants. The company currently has wholly owned plants in South Korea, the US, China and Hungary, with additional facilities being built in China and Hungary.

SK On aims to have a global production capacity of 220 GWh by 2025 and 500 GWh by 2030, including wholly-owned and joint venture facilities.