Ford will start building an all-new 5.4-litre V8 engine early next year as a first step toward the 2003 launch of its redesigned F-150 series pickup – the vehicle maker’s most profitable range, The Detroit News reported.

The newspaper said that Ford has spent $US485 million to ready its Windsor, Ontario, factory in Canada for building the new engine, which should be more powerful, refined and fuel-efficient.

The Detroit News said the 5.4-litre Triton V8 has a three-valve cylinder head design and other new technologies to generate more power and torque in a quieter, more efficient engine.

The new engine develops 300 horsepower, 15% more than the 5.4-litre V8 it replaces, and will be at least 5% more fuel efficient, the newspaper said, adding that the V8 is expected to be the most popular engine offered for the redesigned F-150.

The three-valve cylinder head will be produced at Ford’s Windsor engine plant and shipped to a new production line at the Essex engine plant for final assembly, the Detroit News said.

Production will begin in the first quarter of 2003, the newspaper said.

Ford’s current 5.4-litre Triton V-8 has been criticised as sluggish compared with other engines on the market, the Detroit News said, adding that the redesigned V8 should find its way into other Ford models as well as the top-selling F-150, the key model in Ford’s US model range.