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Ford pauses work on $3.5 billion EV battery plant in Michigan

(Photo by Davide Bonaldo/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

(WISH) — Ford Motor says it has paused work on a $3.5 billion electric vehicle battery plant in Michigan, citing concerns about its ability to competitively operate the plant at a time when it remains locked in broader contract negotiations.

“We are pausing work and limiting spending on construction on the Marshall project until we’re confident about our ability to competitively operate the plant,” Ford said on Monday, declining to say what specific reason triggered the decision but adding there were a number of considerations. “We haven’t made any final decision about the planned investment there.”

In a statement posted to X (formerly Twitter), United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain responded by saying “a shameful, barely-veiled threat by Ford to cut jobs…. We are simply asking for a just transition to electric vehicles and Ford is instead doubling down on their race to the bottom.”

Ford in February announced plans to build the plant in Michigan, betting that making the batteries in the United States would help it and Chinese partner CATL attract U.S. customers to embrace a lower-cost technology pioneered in China.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said: “Ford has been clear that this is a pause, and we will continue to push for successful negotiations between the Big 3 and UAW so that Michiganders can get back to work doing what they do best.”

The UAW and some in Congress want automakers to pay workers at battery plants the same higher wages that workers at assembly and engine plants receive.

If completed, the plant will be located on a 950-acre site in southern Michigan near the town of Marshall. Ford’s plans were to employ 2,500 people when the plant opened for production in 2026. Ford had had announced plans for the battery factory last February. No final decision has been made on whether the plant will, ultimately, become operational, said Ford.