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Ford doubles engine capacity in China

Detroit Free Press - Ford opened a new $500-million engine plant in Chongqing today that will allow it to make an additional 400,000 engines annually in the world's largest car market.

The plant will make 1-liter, three-cylinder EcoBoost engines as well as regular 1.5-liter four-cylinder engines to go into 20 vehicles that will be sold in the Asia Pacific region by 2015. That is a fivefold increase from the number of models Ford was selling there in 2012.

This is the latest stage in the automaker's largest expansion in more than 50 years with seven plants under construction in the Asia Pacific region. It is the second of five in China, a market where General Motors and Volkswagen remain the largest western competitors. China's economic growth is slowing but it is still expanding faster than most of the rest of the world.

The engine plant is the second of seven new factories in China, Thailand and India.

Ford is offering four utility vehicles to Chinese buyers. The Focus and Fiesta are also selling well.

Chongqing, a city of nearly 30 million people in southwest China, is Ford's production hub. The engine plant is a joint venture with Chinese partner Changan.

This expansion more than doubles the 350,000-engine capacity Changan Ford had.

There is room for even more growth. The plant takes up less than 1.8 million square feet on a 4.3-million-square-foot site.

The new plant features a lubrication process that eliminates the need for coolant systems on much of the engine production line, part of Ford's global sustainability plan.

"This new engine plant is world-class," said Ford CEO Alan Mulally in a news release. "The engines produced here and the process by which they are manufactured represent the latest in sustainable and green manufacturing processes."

Much like the last major expansion when Ford made Michigan a manufacturing hub, the "plants we're building in Asia Pacific represent long-term investments over decades," he said.

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