Calling it a "huge step forward," Ford Motor Company and SK On broke ground Monday on an electric vehicle battery park in Glendale, Kentucky, that is expected to create 5,000 new jobs in the commonwealth.
The BlueOval SK Battery Park, at 1,500 acres, will be the largest in the world and will start production in 2025.
It's "the biggest economic development project this state has ever seen," Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said.
Ford plans to produce an annual run rate of 2 million electric vehicles globally by the end of 2026, and the BlueOval SK Battery Park will play a large role in executing this goal.
BlueOval SK has already invested $5.8 billion to produce electric batteries for Ford and Lincoln vehicles.
What's coming to Kentucky
The battery production site will consist of two battery production plants across a more than 2.3-square-mile campus. Each production plant on the campus will employ about 2,500 people. While the goal is to hire as many Kentuckians as possible, Beshear noted that BlueOval SK will need to attract some employees from outside the state.
"We will grow our population in Kentucky with this," Beshear said.
The 5,000 new workers will be trained on site at the new Elizabethtown Community and Technical College BlueOval SK Training Center, the lone co-branded learning center within the state community college system. The 42,000-square-foot training center represents a $25 million investment by the state and will begin construction in 2023, with an anticipated completion date of 2024.
The training for jobs at BlueOval SK will take place through traditional classroom learning along with virtual reality segments and lab simulations.
"Employees will be immersed in the latest technology, allowing them to understand the battery-making process prior to setting foot within the plant," said Liliana Ramirez, the global director of workforce development at Ford.
The state is planning school tours across Hardin County schools of the battery production plant to show Kentucky students they don't have to leave the state to have sustainable careers.
"Members of the class of 2025, currently sophomores, will be able to stay here and have exceptional careers in the EV business," said Lisa Slaven, transition readiness director of Hardin County Schools. "This initiative will create careers and power the EV's we may all drive."
Ford and SK On partnership
David Nowicki, the director of manufacturing operations for EV programs at Ford, said "BlueOval SK Battery Park is a huge step forward for Ford and for the industry."
Ford, known for its Super Duty trucks, has already transitioned three vehicles in its production to electric − the mustang, the F-150 and the transit. Nowicki said the F-150 Lighting is the best-selling electric truck in America. To date, Ford has produced 150,000 electric mustangs.
SK On is the second largest conglomerate business in South Korea. The 60-year-old company has another battery production plant in the works in Tennessee. SK On has spent years in the energy and lithium-ion battery production industries and is now bringing this experience to Hardin County.
"When people come to work at BlueOval SK, they can be proud that they are making the most essential component of the electric vehicle for Ford and Lincoln brands, knowing that the batteries they make are safe and reliable," said David Hahm, CEO of BlueOval SK.
The battery park will be capable of producing more than 80-gigawatt hours — a type of unit of energy — annually. All the construction done for this project has been contracted locally.
Jae-won Chey, the executive vice chairman of SK On said Kentucky may be best known for bourbon and horse racing, but it will soon be known globally for production of electric vehicle batteries.
"Right here in Glendale will become the global hub of battery industry," Chey said.
Contact reporter Olivia Evans at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @oliviamevans_
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Ford and SK Innovation break ground on electric vehicle battery park