Ford’s decision to halt its plans to build an EV battery factory with CATL has not stopped Republican U.S. lawmakers from investigating the automaker’s agreement with the Chinese company. The probe, launched by two House committees in July, focuses on Ford’s efforts to utilize CATL’s battery cell technology at its now suspended battery cell plant in Michigan. Republican representatives Mike Gallagher, Jason Smith, and Cathy McMorris Rodgers have sent a letter to Ford requesting information regarding its licensing agreement with CATL and have threatened to subpoena Ford CEO Jim Farley if the company fails to comply by October 6. Ford claims to have responded thoroughly to questions raised by Congress but the lawmakers believe the company has not been transparent.
This is not the first time lawmakers have sought information about Ford’s agreement with CATL. In April, the House Committee on Ways and Means made an initial inquiry into the deal, while in July, the House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition between the United States and Chinese Communist Party expressed concerns about U.S. jobs being outsourced to China and accused CATL of concealing its ownership stake in companies linked to forced labor. The committees followed up with another request in September. Ford had announced plans in February to construct a $3.5 billion factory in Michigan to produce cheaper lithium iron phosphate batteries using CATL’s technology, but these plans were put on hold due to the United Autoworkers strike. The status of the project is currently uncertain.
In their latest letter to Ford, the lawmakers have asked for a copy of the licensing agreement between Ford and CATL in both English and Chinese, as well as any documents revealing CATL’s connections to forced labor and human rights abuses, and discussions with the Biden Administration. The lawmakers are concerned about potential misinformation and lack of transparency surrounding the deal, and their investigation continues as they seek further information from Ford.