Employees at Ford Motor Company’s Bridgend plant in Wales are celebrating the launch of a new line producing engines for the company’s premier brands. The 4.4-litre V8 petrol engines, being built on the South Wales plant’s second premium engine line, will first appear in the Land Rover Discovery 3 which debuted at last month’s New York motor show.


Bridgend has been producing V8 engines for Jaguar for more than eight years. Three V8 engines, in 3.5 and 4.2-litre sizes, are assembled for the XJ, XK and S-Type models.


Land Rover claims the Discovery’s top-of-the-range Bridgend-built engine offers more low end torque, enhanced dust and water proofing and revised breathing to enable the car to more easily wade rivers and cruise highways.


The modifications are similar to those made to the BMW 4.4-litre V8 used in the larger Range Rover. Ford is expected to replace this with the new Jaguar-derived Discovery V8 when it updates the Range Rover.


The plant’s Jaguar and Land Rover team has spent more than three years preparing for production following the announcement of a $425 million investment in Bridgend. In early 2001 the company announced Bridgend had won a new business package from the company’s premium brands which will take capacity to one million engines a year by 2010.


The launch features the first moving assembly line section to be installed in any European Ford engine plant. On part of the line operators move with the engines they are working on, a feature which leads to increased efficiency.


As well as its Jaguar and Land Rover products, Bridgend also builds Zetec and Zetec SE four cylinder petrol engines for Ford’s Fiesta and Focus models. The plant opened in May 1980 and currently employs around 1,500 people – scheduled to rise towards 2,000 in the next three years.