President Biden has backed substantial subsidies for electric vehicles, including vehicles made by unionized employees, but those measures have languished in the Senate and their prospects are uncertain.
In the meantime, much of the job growth tied to electric vehicles has occurred at nonunion facilities owned by newer automakers like Tesla, Rivian and Lucid, or U.S.-based battery facilities owned wholly or in part by foreign companies like the South Korean manufacturers SK Innovation and LG Chem.
In Thursday’s announcement, Ford noted that its new battery and vehicle production facilities in the South would create about 11,000 jobs. But those employees will not automatically become union members, and workers in those states tend to face an uphill battle in unionizing.
For investors, however, Ford’s additional investments in electric vehicles appears to be welcome news as the company seeks to reinvent itself amid competition from the likes of Tesla and Rivian. Ford’s stock price, which had dropped substantially this year, rose more than 2 percent on Thursday.
Ford also said Thursday that it sold 6,254 electric vehicles in May, a jump of more than 200 percent from a year earlier. That number included 201 F-150 Lightnings, which the company started producing in April.
The company has about 200,000 reservations for the Lightning, which is central to its efforts to catch up to Tesla, and stopped accepting new ones because production will take months to meet demand.
Ford indicated that sales of the truck would be much higher in the coming months as production increased and trucks in transit reached dealerships. Ford is aiming to produce 150,000 Lightning trucks a year by the end of 2023.
Sales of electric vehicles — and conventional cars — have been limited by a shortage of computer chips. Ford’s overall sales of new vehicles in May fell 4.5 percent from a year earlier. Auto executives are also increasingly worried that the supply of lithium, nickel and other raw materials needed to make the batteries that power electric cars is not keeping up with the growing demand for those vehicles.
Vikas Bajaj contributed reporting.