Ford CEO Farley says Chinese automakers like BYD are EVs’ biggest competitors

Ford CEO Jim Farley on Feb. 13, 2023 at the automaker’s battery lab in suburban Detroit announces a new $3.5 billion electric vehicle battery plant in the state to produce lithium iron phosphate or LFP batteries.

Michael Wayland/CNBC

DETROIT – Ford Motors The Biggest Electric Vehicle Competition Isn’t the U.S. Leader Tesla or a cross-country rival General Motorsit’s Chinese automakers, CEO Jim Farley said Thursday.

Farley said that Chinese companies such as Warren Buffett, BYD ahead of major US automakers and electric vehicle startups, especially in battery chemistry and other emerging technologies.

“We see the Chinese as the main competitor, not GM or Toyota,” Farley said at the Morgan Stanley summit on sustainable finance.

He cited BYD as a prime example of a Chinese automaker that has successfully developed and marketed electric vehicles, first in China and now in Europe.

“I love BYD. Fully vertically integrated, aggressive… very, very impressive company. And they have always been committed to electricity,” Farley said when asked which company makes electric vehicles the right way.

New luxury brand BYD Yangwang is selling its first U8 model for more than 1 million yuan ($160,000).

CNNBC | Evelyn Cheng

BYD increased its sales in China from 445,000 units in 2015 to almost 2 million last year, according to LMC Automotive, making it one of the top five automakers by sales in China.

Farley’s comments echo those of industry experts and investors regarding the rise of BYD and other Chinese automakers backed by the Chinese government.

“BYD is huge in terms of both electric vehicles and batteries,” Philip Ripman, portfolio manager at Storebrand Asset Management, told CNBC Pro Talks last week.

Ripman, who manages a $1 billion sustainable Storebrand Global Solutions fund, highlighted BYD’s developments in lower-cost sodium-ion battery technology that could potentially replace lithium batteries. He noted that they could become dominant in BYD’s more affordable electric vehicles and help the automaker increase profit margins.

Farley also noted the benefits of BYD batteries over the current industry standard for US lithium-ion batteries.

The Ford Mustang Mach-E is unveiled at the New York International Auto Show in Manhattan, New York on April 5, 2023.

David Di Delgado | Reuters

Earlier this year, Ford announced a new collaboration with China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Co., or CATL, on a new $3.5 billion plant to make cheaper batteries in Michigan.

The facility will manufacture new lithium iron phosphate batteries, or LFPs, as opposed to the more expensive nickel-cobalt-manganese lithium batteries the company currently uses. It is expected to open in 2026 and employ about 2,500 people, according to the Detroit automaker.

Farley touted BYD’s role in creating the technology.

“BYD’s scale is now much larger than Tesla’s, and they have developed LFP technology, which is a better battery,” Farley said.

The Ford-CATL deal has come under fire amid US-China tensions. In particular, Marco Rubio. the Biden administration asked. consider a deal involving the licensing of Ford CATL technologies. The Detroit automaker will own the new facility through a subsidiary rather than as a joint venture with CATL.

Farley said that if the policy gets in the way of allowing cheaper electric vehicle technology in the US, the consumer will be “fucked up” with higher prices.

“We need to work this out in our country. And I think those are really interesting companies,” Farley said.

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