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Ford opens Romanian EcoBoost factory

Triple treat: Ford’s drive to keep increasing its capacity to produce EcoBoost engines continues with the opening of a new production line in Romania.

New factory ups European EcoBoost production as Ford adds third shift at US V6 plant

Ford logo11 May 2012

UPDATED: 14/05/2012FORD’S second factory in Europe to build its new three-cylinder EcoBoost petrol engine started production yesterday, following the recent addition of a third shift to the EcoBoost V6 line at its Cleveland factory in the US.

The creation of a “world class” new engine plant in the Romanian city of Craiova, about 200km west of Bucharest, represents €180 million ($A231 million) of a total €675 million investment in production facilities by Ford in the Eastern European country.

The investment forms part of Ford’s plan to more than triple production of EcoBoost-equipped vehicles from 141,000 last year to about 480,000 by 2015, by when the high-tech engines are expected to power more than half of Ford’s petrol-engined vehicles in Europe.

Last year, Ford invested £110 million ($A176 million) in a new high-tech production line at the Cologne engine plant in Germany, where up to 350,000 three-cylinder engines will be built per year.

The creation of the Romanian facility will eventually enable Ford to double that figure and the company expects its capacity to build the three-cylinder engines will reach 1.3 million units per year once production is expanded beyond Europe.

Between this year and 2015 Ford aims to produce more than 1.3 million EcoBoost engines for its European vehicles, of which 800,000 are expected to be the three-cylinder from Cologne and Craiova.

 center imageFrom top: Ford EcoBoost V6 production at Cleveland, Ford B-Max, Ford EcoSport.

Ford expects the remainder to be made up of 1.6-litre four-cylinder units built in Britain plus Spanish-built 2.0-litre units.

These figures do not include engines sold to other brands like Volvo and Jaguar Land Rover or those exported for use in overseas market vehicles like the Australian four-cylinder Falcon.

To provide perspective, Ford says the British facility that builds the 1.6-litre EcoBoost engines is expected to produce one million units for the period 2012-2015, meaning the estimated 400,000 powerplants destined for its European vehicles represent less than half its output.

A single shift at Craiova will build the three-cylinder 1.0-litre EcoBoost to begin with – the first Ford-built engine to come out of Romania – and production will ramp up as demand increases.

Ford Romania president Jan Gijsen described the Craiova factory as “one of the most competitive and modern plants in the auto industry”.

The three-cylinder EcoBoost engine entered the European market earlier this year under the bonnet of Ford’s Focus small car in 74kW and 92kW tune.

Ford plans to add it to the new Fiesta-based B-Max people-mover – which will also be built at Craiova from later this year – with power outputs of 74kW and 88kW.

Focus-based C-Max and Grand C-Max people-movers are also in line to receive the engine and Ford says further vehicles will be added to the list in future.

Ford Romania engine unit manager Ian Pearson said the Craiova plant will deliver “state-of-the-art sustainable manufacturing capability”, giving the example of a new manufacturing technique that reduces the amount of coolant required when machining aluminium engine parts from as much as two litres down to four or five millilitres.

EcoBoost engines are claimed to achieve high specific output and low fuel consumption through the use of turbocharging, direct injection, precise valve control and idle-stop.

Measures to reduce the inherent vibration of three-cylinder engines include deliberately unbalanced pulleys and flywheel, plus six counterweights located on the crankshaft, reducing complexity and weight compared with traditional balancer shafts.

The Ford Focus fitted with the three-cylinder EcoBoost engine returns claimed fuel consumption of 4.8 litres per 100 kilometres and CO2 emissions of 109 grams per kilometre for the 74kW version, while the 92kW version consumes 5.0L/100km and emits 114g/km.

Australia’s first application of the EcoBoost triple will be the Indian-built, Fiesta-based EcoSport compact SUV that is due to arrive in local showrooms during the second half of 2013.

In North America, Ford is responding to increasing demand for its 3.5-litre V6 EcoBoost engine, which is used in the Taurus sedan, F-150 truck, Flex crossover, Lincoln MKS luxury sedan and Lincoln MKT luxury SUV.

A third shift has begun at the Cleveland No. 1 line in Ohio, with around 250 workers relocated from the recently closed Cleveland No. 2 plant that produced and gave its name to Ford’s iconic 351 V8 engine.

In addition to producing six-cylinder EcoBoost engines, the Cleveland plant also builds the Mustang’s naturally aspirated 3.7-litre V6.

More than 39,000 vehicles fitted with the V6 EcoBoost engine were sold in the first quarter of this year, up 285 percent compared with the same period in 2011.

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