UK markets closed
  • FTSE 100

    +75.60 (+1.01%)
  • FTSE 250

    +175.18 (+0.96%)
  • AIM

    +2.51 (+0.35%)

    +0.0083 (+0.72%)

    +0.0086 (+0.68%)
  • Bitcoin GBP

    +574.49 (+1.88%)
  • CMC Crypto 200

    +11.20 (+1.41%)
  • S&P 500

    +26.83 (+0.59%)
  • DOW

    +294.61 (+0.82%)

    -1.58 (-2.08%)

    +34.50 (+1.68%)
  • NIKKEI 225

    -55.38 (-0.17%)

    -212.58 (-1.25%)
  • DAX

    +182.09 (+1.12%)
  • CAC 40

    +35.38 (+0.48%)

Ford halts work on $3.5bn US battery plant as factory workers strike

Striking United Auto Workers (UAW) union workers picket outside the Ford Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, US
The west of Detroit plant employs 2,500 workers to make lower-cost batteries for EVs - Dieu-Nalio Chery/Reuters

Ford will pause the construction of a $3.5bn (£2.9bn) electric vehicle battery plant in the US amid a high profile dispute with unions over pay and job security.

The motor giant said it had halted works on the factory in Michigan and limited spending on it until it is confident it can be run competitively.

The site had been expected to start making batteries in 2026, which would have supplied cells for 400,000 vehicles per year.

Unions called the move “a shameful, barely-veiled threat by Ford to cut jobs” at a plant that is not open yet.

Earlier this month, the United Auto Workers (UAW) union began strike action against Ford and the other two of the “Big Three” Detroit car makers – General Motors and Chrysler-owner Stellantis.

Unions are striking over pay, job security and benefits. As well as cost of living considerations, workers are concerned that the shift to electric cars will lead to job losses. Electric vehicles (EVs) have fewer moving parts and therefore require fewer people to assemble them.

Strike expansion

The UAW at first targeted one vehicle assembly plant from each manufacturer, and last week expanded it to parts warehouses.

Ford was spared from the expansion because the union said progress was being made in negotiations. The carmaker is in the midst of national contract talks with the UAW, which wants to represent workers at battery factories.

Leading EV manufacturers in China and Tesla are non-unionised, meaning they typically drive down costs more than unionised factories.

In February, Ford announced plans to build its battery plant in Marshall, Michigan, employing about 2,500 workers to make lower-cost batteries for a variety of new and existing vehicles. Marshall is about 100 miles (160 kilometres) west of Detroit and is near two major interstate highways.

Viability considerations

Confirming the suspension of works, Ford spokesman TR Reid said: “There are a number of considerations. We haven’t made any final decision about the planned investment there.”

Republican state representative Sarah Lightner, whose district includes Marshall, said the news from Ford “came out of the blue”.

He said: “We’re still gathering information because there’s a lot of moving parts. Obviously, the strikes could probably have something to do with it.”

There has been some local opposition to the factory location and criticism of a Chinese company’s involvement in the plant, which would be run by a wholly owned subsidiary of Ford.

Ford said the subsidiary would own the factory and employ the workers while China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology, or CATL, would supply technology, some equipment and workers.