Ford invests $500 million, brings 300 jobs to Lima Engine Plant

Last updated: March 28. 2014 10:31PM - 8579 Views
By William Laney wlaney@civitasmedia.com

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LIMA — Standing in front of autoworkers and area government leaders, Ford President of The Americas Joe Hinrichs declared Friday the Ford Motor Co. will be building its new 2.7-liter V6 EcoBoost engine and adding 300 jobs at the Lima Engine Plant after investing nearly $500 million to upgrade the facility.

“It is my distinct pleasure and honor to officially announce the all-new 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 with Auto Start-Stop technology for the next generation Ford F-150 will be built right here in Lima, Ohio, at the Lima Engine Plant,” Hinrichs said to the applause of hundreds gathered in the midst of 700,000 square feet devoted to new engine’s production. “We are proud to announce that Ford will invest $500 million and add 300 new jobs here as we ramp up production for the new engines in support of this great F-150 launch.”

The newly designed high-output, twin-turbo engine will consist of aluminum and a compacted graphite iron engine block to provide strength and durability while delivering fuel economy. Auto Start-Stop technology also should boost the engine’s fuel efficiency as it automatically turns the engine off when the vehicle stops and re-engages the engine when the driver releases the brake.

Hinrichs said the new Ford engine complements two other engines, the 3.5-liter and the 3.7-liter V6 EcoBoost engines, already manufactured for the F-150. Sales data shows 57 percent of new customers in 2014 are opting for these two engines and Ford executives forecast robust demand for the more fuel-efficient 2.7-liter version.

The engine is to be installed in approximately 25 percent of the new and lighter F-150, which is using a high-strength, military-grade aluminum alloy for the body to make the truck lighter, stronger and more resistant to dents. The change will help make the truck nearly 700 pounds lighter.

“It is very exciting to be adding the EcoBoost engine to the outstanding work you already do,” Hinrichs said, directing his comment at hundreds of plant workers gathered in a semi-circle around the makeshift stage. “We know we can count on all of you to launch this engine of great quality, light-weight design at a volume we need to support our most important line at our company, the F-150.”

Lima Engine Plant Manager Mike Felix described Friday’s announcement as “a day we have long awaited for and is finally here.”

“This is a proud day for us, not only as a plant, but as the community of Lima as well, because we have a long history of building engines in this plant,” Felix said. “Just a short two years ago, this was a dark, abandoned area of the plant. This was an area that hadn’t produced engines for years and now we have transformed more than 700,000 square foot of floor space with the latest technology and machine components for assembling engines. We are poised to start the next chapter of our plant.”

The Lima plant, which opened in 1957 producing engines for the Edsel, will house the new flexible engine assembly system in an area which last produced the Vulcan engine. This new engine line has been under construction since 2012 with the full $500 million to be invested when line reaches full production by the end of the year.

The local plant already produces the 3.5-liter and 3.7-liter Duratec V6 engines for Ford vehicles, include the Edge and Explorer utility vehicles, Lincoln MKX crossover, MKT utility and MKZ sedan. The 2.4 million-square-foot facility employs 825 hourly and 123 salaried workers before the announcement, with additional hirings possibly bringing total employment near 1,250.

Friday’s announcement also confirmed information a company engineer told The Lima News at the North American International Auto Show back in January.

Mayor David Berger, who chairs the Lima Auto Task Force that supports the Ford plant and advocates for the auto industry in the region, built on Felix’s history book analogy.

“This has been, I think, a really important new chapter opening for the Lima Engine Plant,” Berger said. “With this engine going into the most popular vehicle that Ford builds, it just sends a very strong signal about how important this Ford product is to the company’s long-term sales. We have gone through a number of business cycles and there has been a lot of vacant space here for a long time and having another 700,000 square feet in production is good for the local economy, good for the local work force and will be here for the long term.”

The Ford series has been the best-selling truck for the past 37 consecutive years and has been the best-selling vehicle for the past 32 consecutive years.

JobsOhio’s President and Chief Investment Officer John Minor described the event “as exciting for Lima, exciting for Ford workers and exciting for Ohio” as Ford has invested more than $1 billion at plants in Ohio in the last couple of years.

“This level of commitment by Ford really solidifies the long-term future of the plant here in Lima,” Minor said. “In addition to that, we are really thrilled by the 300 new jobs this project will create. This is the kind of commitment that really keeps our economic engine going here in Ohio.”

Workers at the plant and from other Ford plants will be the first to be considered for positions on the new line. When this job placement process is complete, the company will advertise for new workers.

Union leaders praised Ford executives and union workers for their cooperation to bring the company through what UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles called the “Dark Ages” of the national economy and auto manufacturing to Friday’s announcement which UAW Local 1219 President Dave Rabe said shows the future direction.

“The Lima Engine Plant consists of a highly skilled, highly motivated work force with a history of producing high quality engines, maintaining good safety records and exceeding customer demands,” Rabe said. “We will continue to work closely with our leadership and Ford leadership, both in Lima and nationally, to explore additional opportunities for all of us moving forward. There are great things ahead, and the future of the Lima Engine Plant is bright.”

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