A Trefis analysis from January concluded that Tesla’s Gigafactory is paying dividends. The study, published in Forbes, estimated the automaker’s battery costs fell 45 percent from 2016 to 2019, an average drop of $7,000 per vehicle.
But Ford argues that its reliance on suppliers also could reduce prices.
“It gives us the ability to access the latest technology and innovation across multiple suppliers,” Thai-Tang said. “So I know exactly what the state of the art is from the Korean suppliers, the Japanese suppliers, the Chinese suppliers, and I’m able to compare notes across them maybe better than they can. And then, of course, we have the competitive tension with dealing with multiple suppliers, which allows us to drive the cost down.”
Despite its insistence that the supply base is prepared, Ford has said tight battery supplies would limit the upcoming Mustang Mach-E to 50,000 vehicles globally in its first year of production.
Still, the company is hesitant to lock itself into a certain type of battery, with Thai-Tang citing Toyota Motor Corp. as a cautionary tale.
“They invested to vertically integrate nickel-metal hydride batteries for their hybrids,” he said. “And after spending over $1 billion to do that, the technology shifted to lithium ion, and they were among the last to switch over. I don’t want to put Ford in that position.”