Dirt has been moved in Marshall.
Land has been purchased in Green Charter Township.
And battery cells are being produced at a newly constructed 659,589-square-foot facility in Van Buren Township.
Three multibillion-dollar electric vehicle developments have taken strides in Michigan since they were announced in the past year. They include Our Next Energy’s $1.6 billion battery gigafactory, Gotion Inc’s $2.36 billion battery parts facility and Ford Motor Co.’s $3.5 billion BlueOval Battery Park Michigan.
Related: See where billon-dollar electric vehicle projects are landing in Michigan
“We have proven time and time again that we will compete for every dollar and every project to move Michigan forward,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said while announcing the Gotion and Our Next Energy investments in October 2022.
But each of those projects has faced setbacks as the demand for electric vehicles has slowed.
Here’s a current timeline for each one:
What: Our Next Energy, headquartered in Novi, built a facility this year called ONE Circle in Wayne County’s Van Buren Township.
The gigafactory includes raw material refinement, cathode materials production and cell and battery manufacturing. Battery materials will be processed on site, meaning the factory will control each aspect of the supply chain. The battery technology company intends to address “range anxiety” by doubling the distance electric vehicles can travel with its battery packs.
Our Next Energy started producing its first lithium iron phosphate battery cells on a pilot line in November. This line allows the company to share samples of the batteries with customers for testing purposes, a statement said. Our Next Energy expects to start delivering cells to customers and scaling production in 2024.
Related: Michigan startup investing $1.6B in EV battery gigafactory, creating 2,112 jobs
Despite recent progress, Our Next Energy laid off 128 salaried and hourly employees last month “in response to market conditions.”
“All areas of the company were evaluated, and decisions were made on a department-by-department basis, to align with our revised business plan,” a statement said. “While decisions that impact our colleagues are always difficult, these actions position ONE for future growth and delivering on its mission, including continuing to establish its gigafactory (ONE Circle) in Michigan and to develop a North American supply chain for batteries.”
When: Exterior construction of ONE Circle, located at the Crossroads Distribution Center, was finished earlier this year.
Manufacturing equipment was installed and a 20,000-square-foot dry room, one of the largest in Michigan, was completed in the fall. Initial battery cell production is underway with battery pack production starting in 2024, the company says.
Incentives: Michigan awarded the battery maker a $200 million grant from the Strategic Outreach Attraction Reserve, a fund created nearly two years ago to attract major business investments. The company also received a $21.6 million tax exemption and a $15 million loan from the state.
Related: Michigan funneled $2B into luring big business. Here’s where it went.
A rendering of the proposed $2.4 billion Gotion plant in Big Rapids. The Chinese electric vehicle battery manufacturer plans to build two 550,000-square-foot plants near U.S. 131 and the Big Rapids airport. (Photo provided by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation)
What: Battery maker Gotion Inc. plans to construct a $2.36 billion parts plant in Green Charter Township near Big Rapids.
When complete, the facility is expected to employ 2,350 people.
The Michigan facility will help form “a burgeoning Great Lakes battery basin in the Midwest,” Gotion Inc. spokesperson John Whetstone said earlier this year. Another $2 billion Gotion gigafactory is planned for Illinois.
When: A groundbreaking is planned for summer 2024.
As a next step, the battery maker is finalizing a timber partner and plans to start cutting trees on the development site in early January. Gotion conducted ecological and environmental studies on site and purchased 270 acres of land in August.
The company says it is “completely on track” with all project deliverables and obligations.
“Much planning and design is required before spending capital for such a project, so we appreciate the public’s patience on this highly anticipated project,” said Chuck Thelen, vice president of Gotion Inc. – North American Manufacturing.
Initial production is expected to start in 2025 with the plant being fully staffed and completed by 2031 – a year later than originally planned.
Incentives: Michigan awarded Gotion Inc. a $125 million grant and a 30-year tax break valued at $540 million to support the investment. Economic development group The Right Place was also given a $50 million grant for the project.
Pushback: Scrutiny has swirled around the Gotion Inc. investment since it was announced last October.
The biggest flashpoint has centered on Gotion Inc.’s Chinese parent company Gotion High Tech despite repeated assurances from Thelen “there is no communist plot” within the company. Gotion Inc. is a U.S. owned subsidiary of the publicly owned Chinese battery manufacturer.
A review from the U.S Department of Treasury’s Committee on Foreign Investment (an agency tasked with assessing national security risks) determined the purchase of land in Mecosta County is not a covered real estate transaction, meaning the project can move forward. But some Republican lawmakers are still pushing for more oversight on the project.
The future site of Ford’s BlueOval Battery Park Michigan under construction in Marshall Township, Mich. on Monday, May 1, 2023.
What: Site work is underway on Ford Motor Co.’s sprawling $3.5 billion BlueOval Battery Park Michigan located on 950 acres of rural land in southwest Michigan.
The plant will produce lithium iron phosphate batteries to be used in Mustang Mach-E and F-150 Lightning vehicles.
Construction was suspended for nearly two months until the automaker announced in November it’s scaling back the investment. After “re-timing and resizing” the investment, Ford expects BlueOval Battery Park Michigan will create 1,700 jobs – 800 fewer than originally planned.
When: Despite the construction pause, production is expected to start at BlueOval Battery Park in 2026.
The Marshall Area Economic Development Alliance started site preparation this year including infrastructure updates and relocating historic barns on the property. Ford will begin constructing the battery plant when site prep is complete.
“We are pleased to confirm we are moving ahead with the Marshall project, consistent with the Ford+ plan for growth and value creation. However, we are right-sizing as we balance investment, growth, and profitability,” the automaker said in a November statement.
Incentives: Michigan awarded the Ford project a patchwork of incentives totaling $1.7 billion.
This includes a $120 million grant to the Marshall Area Economic Development Alliance, a $210 million grant to Ford and a tax break valued at $774 million. A state supplemental budget bill also earmarked $630 million for site work of the rural mega site.
The state says those incentives will be adjusted based on the final scope of the project.
Pushback: The Ford project has been caught up in two competing legal battles.
An opposition group called the Committee for Marshall - Stop the Megasite filed a lawsuit against the city of Marshall in June to temporarily halt the development pending a referendum, a public vote, on rezoning the land for industrial use.
A judge denied a request for an injunction and issued motion for summary disposition in favor of defendants, meaning the committee can now amend its complaint with additional evidence. But the Committee for Marshall is also being sued by the Marshall Citizens for Jobs and Opportunity, a pro-Ford group, over their efforts to get a referendum vote.
Both of those cases are still pending.