DETROIT — Ford is moving production of a popular small engine from Spain to Cleveland as sales of four-cylinder motors rise.
Later this week, Ford will announce a $200 million investment at its factory in Brook Park, Ohio, so it can make the four-cylinder, 2-liter “EcoBoost” engine, according to a person briefed on the matter. The move will add about 450 jobs at the factory that now employs about 1,300 hourly and salaried workers.
The factory now makes two larger six-cylinder engines.
The person didn’t want to be identified because the official Ford announcement won’t be made until Thursday.
Ford and other carmakers are looking to four-cylinder turbocharged motors to help meet stricter U.S. fuel economy rules. And as pump prices again surge toward $4 a gallon, the engines satisfy driver demand for better mileage. In the U.S., new vehicles will have to average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, twice the roughly 27 mpg they get today
Ford’s 2-Liter EcoBoost engine now is manufactured in Valencia, Spain, and shipped to the U.S., where its sales are growing. More customers are choosing smaller engines as Ford and others offer them on more models. The engines get better gas mileage than six-cylinder motors. And they have turbochargers, which give them more power when needed.
Last year, just more than half the cars sold in the U.S. had four-cylinder engines, according to J.D. Power and Associates. It was 36 percent in 2007. By contrast, cars with six-cylinder engines dropped to 32 percent from 40 percent in 2007.
Industry analysts also say that making the engines in Spain leaves Ford vulnerable to high shipping expenses and the risk of currency fluctuations that could cost the company millions.
Two years ago, Ford sold 6,900 vehicles equipped with the 2-Liter EcoBoost engines in the U.S. That rose to 96,000 last year, said Erich Merkle, Ford’s top sales analyst. In January, Ford sold 15,000 vehicles with the engines, Merkle said. That puts sales on a pace of more than 180,000 this year.