Ford To Reopen Ohio Engine Plant

Plant in suburban Cleveland which has been idle for nearly two years is about to begin making a new fuel-efficient engine for some of Ford's 2010 model cars.

BROOK PARK, Ohio (AP) -- The first Ford Motor Co. plant to make a new line of fuel-efficient engines will help the company deliver the kind of fuel economy that customers demand, officials said Friday.

The plant in suburban Cleveland, idled since 2007, was chosen to make the 3.5-liter, V-6 EcoBoost engines that will be standard on the Ford Taurus SHO and optional on the Lincoln MKS and MKT, and Ford Flex cars.

EcoBoost engines combine direct injection technology and turbo-charging for improved fuel efficiency and lower CO2 emissions. Ford says they can achieve up 20 percent better fuel and 15 percent lower CO2 emissions, compared with larger displacement engines, without sacrificing power.

Pressured by Washington and last year's spike in gasoline prices, the troubled auto industry has accelerated what was a gradual push toward smaller and more fuel-efficient cars.

Cleveland Engine Plant No. 1, which was Ford's first engine plant in Ohio when it opened in 1951, had more than 500 employees when it was shut down in May 2007. It was retooled to make 3.5-liter engines, but production wasn't immediately needed, and the opening date was pushed back at least twice.

Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford said Friday it initially will use about 250 workers from its three other plants at the Cleveland-area site.

The announcement is a slight reprieve for Ohio, a state reeling with layoffs and whose ties the auto industry are second only to Michigan. Ohio released new jobless figures Friday showing that the state's unemployment rate was 8.8 percent in January, up from the revised rate of 7.4 in December and the highest level in more than 20 years.

Mike Gammella, president of the United Auto Workers Local 1250, said the union hopes the new EcoBoost engine will lead to more jobs.

"It's really a good thing," he said. "Whenever you can bring a new product in, especially a product of this magnitude, it's sensational news, especially in this economy."

More in Operations