Monday August 31, 2009, 9:33 AM
Ford Motor Co.
Ford Motor Co. plans to start selling a new 6.7-liter diesel engine in its 2011 F-Series Super Duty pickups.
Updated at 5:27 p.m.
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Ford Motor Co.'s Brook Park engine complex will not build the company's new diesel truck engine, despite years of negotiations aimed at bringing the work here.
Instead, the company said Monday it would build the 6.7-liter diesel engine for model year 2011 F-Series Super Duty trucks in Chihuahua, Mexico.
Not getting the diesel leaves one less option for Cleveland Engine Plant No. 2, which could close if it doesn't get a new product by 2011.
Ford last year said it would invest $3 billion in several Mexican plants to get ready for the upcoming Ford Fiesta subcompact and other vehicles. That investment included money for the Chihuahua engine plant that now makes only four-cylinder gasoline engines.
Union and state officials had been involved in talks to bring the diesel engine to Brook Park. The 2007 contract between Ford and the United Auto Workers called for the automaker to consider Engine Plant No. 2 for the work. That facility now makes six-cylinder engines for the Ford Fusion sedan and the Ford Escape sport utility vehicle.
"We've had continued talks with Ford about new products for Plant No. 2 and more work for Plant No. 1," Mike Gammella, president of UAW Local 1250, said Monday. Engine Plant No. 1 makes the turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine used in the new Taurus SHO.
Engine Plant No. 2 has about 400 people working a single shift making six-cylinder car engines. The plant lost its second shift more than a year ago, as most people buying the Fusion and Escape are opting for the four-cylinder version. The casting plant in Brook Park is scheduled to close next year.
Auto industry analysts have said they expect Ford to phase out the 3-liter engine being built at Engine Plant No. 2 by 2011. With the diesel engine now out of the picture, Ford would have to build something else in that plant to keep it open. Gammella has put his hopes on winning four-cylinder engines for small cars.
During contract talks with the union earlier this year, Ford committed to bringing more engine production to the United States. The company has said it will have to double its capacity for building four-cylinder engines.
Most of the new vehicles that Ford plans to introduce over the next five years are smaller cars that were designed in Asia and Europe. The company expects fuel prices to rise, encouraging buyers to select smaller vehicles. And new federal fuel-economy regulations are also encouraging it to build more four-cylinder engines.
Gammella has said repeatedly that new small engines in Brook Park would provide more job security than the diesels.
The 6.7-liter diesel engine will be the first the company has made in decades for domestic use. Trucking giant Navistar has made Ford's diesel engines since 1979.
That relationship crashed following the 2003 release of the 6-liter Powerstroke diesel. Customers reported huge numbers of problems with that engine, forcing Ford to buy back thousands of trucks. Ford blamed Navistar for the problems, and Navistar blamed Ford.
Navistar and Ford replaced the troubled 6-liter with a 6.4-liter engine in 2007. The changeover was necessary to meet new federal diesel emissions standards for 2007. Diesel standards tighten again in 2011, forcing the latest upgrade.
Ford did not release the horsepower and torque numbers on the new engine, key statistics for the commercial truck users who rely on the vehicles. The company said fuel economy and power would both be higher than the current diesel offering.
While Ford has outsourced its truck engine diesels for the past 30 years, it has developed its own car diesels in Europe for about as long.