Ford (F) - Get Free Report is the second-biggest electric vehicle manufacturer in America behind Elon Musk’s Tesla (TSLA) - Get Free Report. Its recent rollouts, including the electric F-150 Lightning pickup truck and the people-moving Supervan, have been hyped on social media. Many of its new products are hotly anticipated by electric vehicle enthusiasts who want to buy U.S.-made vehicles with distinctive American utility and flair.
Ford already produces the now-iconic Model E, a crossover version of its Mustang, which crushed sales records and delighted drivers in 2022.
Interestingly, the legacy American motor company plans to scale like a startup, producing 600,000 or more electric vehicles by the end of 2023 and 2 million by 2026. For reference, Tesla sold more than 1.3 million cars in 2022.
Ford Had Big Production Plans in Virginia
For years, Ford was planning a massive lithium iron phosphate battery production plant to go into its TVs in Berry Hill, VA. The plant had been in talks and establishment stages for 15 years and Ford had put over $200 million into the investment. The total investment was rumored to be more than $3.5 billion once all was said and done.
Currently, Ford has production plants primarily focused in the Midwest (namely Michigan, where its headquarters are). So bringing a factory that would create 2,500 jobs to a new location would have been quite the boon for the state of Virginia. The plant also would have been the largest publicly owned operation in the Southeast. Berry Hill is also located in one of the poorest parts of Virginia, so a boost to its employment numbers may have stood to benefit the area.
Over a year into his reign, however, Virginia’s governor has changed his tune about the plant.
Ford Is No Longer a Candidate Due to Communism Scare
Gov. Youngkin put the brakes on the EV production plant late in December, citing concerns about ties to the Chinese Communist Party.
Specifically, the governor objects because the project, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, entailed a partnership with a Chinese battery maker, CATL.
“While Ford is an iconic American company, it became clear that this proposal would serve as a front for the Chinese Communist Party, which could compromise our economic security and Virginians’ personal privacy,” Youngkin spokesman Macaulay Porter told The Detroit News.
“Virginians can be confident that companies with known ties to the Chinese Communist Party won’t receive a leg up from the Commonwealth’s economic incentive packages,” she added. “When the potentially damaging effects of the deal were realized, the plant proposal never reached a final discussion stage.”
The factory now has no official tenant and remains vacant.
Democrats, for what it’s worth, have taken the opportunity to chastise the governor for his anti-labor decision.
“During his campaign, the Governor made a promise to bring economic development and manufacturing jobs to our communities that are struggling — especially in rural Virginia — to attract industries that offer competitive wages,” Sen. Ghazala Hashmi, told The Richmond Times Dispatch. “The Governor’s decision to pull Virginia out of the competition for the new Ford facility puts the Commonwealth at a severe disadvantage.”
Gov. Youngkin's office could not be immediately reached for comment.