Ford Motor Co. will ask the United Auto Workers union for flexibility to reduce electric-vehicle production in case the U.S. market for battery-powered cars lags behind expectations.

Negotiations open Friday for a new four-year contract for Ford’s more than 57,000 U.S. hourly workers. And talks are expected to be contentious as the union seeks pay raises, a restoration of cost-of-living increases and job guarantees while the industry shifts to less labor intensive electric-vehicle production.

New UAW President Shawn Fain has said he is going to "war” against the Detroit automakers, and accused them of engaging in a "race to the bottom” in the EV transition with factories that will employ fewer workers earning lower wages. This week, Fain eschewed the ceremonial handshake-across-the-bargaining-table with CEOs that has marked the opening of auto contract talks for decades, saying he’ll do so "when they come to the table with a deal.”