Ford sticking with plans to buy electric vehicle batteries made in Ga.

Ford still plans to purchase electric vehicle batteries made at a $2.6 billion factory under construction near Commerce, despite the automaker’s announcement that it will design and potentially manufacture its own batteries.

Ford said Tuesday that it will open a $185 million battery research and development center in Michigan. But, company officials said, that will not impact its agreement to buy batteries from SK Battery America. Ford plans to use those batteries in a new electric model of its F-150 pickup truck.

Volkswagen also will buy batteries from SK’s Georgia plant and does not plan to make its own, a spokeswoman said. However, VW has invested in battery factories operated by other companies, according to a media report.

At first, the Ford battery facility will only study battery technology, company spokeswoman Jennifer Flake said Wednesday.

“We are interested in having control over future battery supplies eventually,” Flake said in an emailed statement. “The next steps, though, involve the research and development on a number of aspects of the technology.”

Company officials said Ford eventually will make its own battery cells.

SK did not immediately respond to a request for comment. SK expects to begin producing batteries at the Jackson County factory next year.

“We continue to value our relationships with battery and battery tech suppliers,” Flake said.

Lithium-ion batteries are the most important part of an electric vehicle, replacing hundreds of parts used in gas-powered vehicles. Industry experts have said that a potential lithium shortage could threaten the industry’s expansion.

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