House Republicans expand investigation of Ford EV deal

House Republicans are launching another investigation into the electric car battery deal Ford Motor Co. struck with a Chinese company earlier this year.

Energy and Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and more than two dozen colleagues asked Ford CEO James Farley in a letter Tuesday to share a copy of the agreement the automaker signed with China-based Contemporary Amperex Technology. Ltd., or CATL, to build a $3.5 billion electric vehicle plant in Marshall, Michigan.

The lawmakers expressed concern that “Ford’s partnership with a Chinese company could aid China’s efforts to expand its control over US electric vehicle supply chains and jeopardize national security by increasing dependence on China.”

Melissa Miller, a Ford spokeswoman, said the company will respond as soon as it receives the congressional letter to “correct yet again the rampant misinformation” about the project. Miller said that only Ford would build the plant and would own and operate it.

“We’re doing this rather than putting Ford’s battery factory in another country — or buying these batteries made in China exclusively, like our competitors do,” Miller said.

Miller also retracted the wording of the letter and said Ford had no “partnership” with the Chinese company, adding that CATL would not own any part of the plant.

It said Ford licenses CATL’s battery cell technology for use in the US and “will contract with CATL for certain services, but nothing more”.

The letter adds to growing calls – mostly from Republicans – for more details about Ford’s announcement in February that it plans to build an electric vehicle plant using technology from CATL, the world’s largest producer of lithium iron phosphate batteries. Ford at the time expressed confidence that the project would qualify for tax breaks under the Inflation Reduction Act.

The deal has come under scrutiny from lawmakers like Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and other House Republicans have launched an investigation in recent weeks.

Lawmakers on the Energy and Commerce Committee asked Ford by September 18 to share a copy of the agreement it signed with CATL, as well as all communications exchanged between the two companies and contractors and consultants related to the deal. They asked whether Ford considered non-Chinese companies to partner with.

The new letter also looked at the number of CATL employees who would work at the plant and asked what steps Ford plans to take “to prevent or limit CATL’s ability to unilaterally halt production, such as the Chinese government’s directive.”

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