Spurred by a 24% rise in diesel production last year, Ford’s two UK engine plants are targeting 1,000,000 engines each a year by 2009.

The diesel plant in Dagenham, Essex, east of London, saw a 24% rise in volume to 683,729 engines last year. Two additional variants new to the plant – 1.4 and 1.6-litre engines – will be launched within months, pushing output higher in 2007.

In an ongoing recruitment drive which has created 250 jobs to date, engine production and maintenance staff are being taken on in readiness.

Plant manager Dave Parker said: “Year 2007 brings Dagenham its most significant expansion in more than 30 years. Our new assembly line for 1.4 and 1.6 engines was installed last year and is now being tested, building pre-production units. I look forward to the line going live in the second quarter.”

Dagenham’s existing engine range spans four, six and eight cylinder diesel powerplants, from 1.8 to 3.6-litre capacity, for the Ford, Jaguar and Land Rover brands.

The Bridgend plant in Wales is the centre of the automaker’s petrol engine production in the UK. Here, volume was up 11% last year, from 551, 814 in 2005 to 604,935, leading to further expansion of the workforce. Bridgend will create a further 200 jobs this year to sustain its expansion.

Bridgend plant manager Bob Murphy said: “We have benefited from continuing strong demand for the cars we power, investment by the company and Welsh assembly government support. Co-operation from employees and unions is enabling us to meet rising orders for our advanced technology, high quality engines.”

The plant assembles four, six and eight cylinder engines from 1.25 to 4.4-litre for the Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo brands. Its 3.2-litre unit, which went into production last year, was displayed at this month’s Detroit motor show, modified to run on either bioethanol or petrol.

Bridgend’s output this year will exceed 800,000 engines for the first time since the plant opened in 1980. It, like Dagenham, is on course to produce a million engines a year by 2009.