Ford on Tuesday said it would invest $US335 million in its Lima, Ohio, engine plant to build a new, 3.5-litre V6 engine.

The all-aluminium dual-overhead-cam 24-valve ‘Duratec 35’ 6 engine will power future Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles, including passenger cars and crossover vehicles. Annual production capacity is projected to be up to 325,000 engines a year and production will begin by the end of 2005.

At Lima, Ford will install new engine assembly, cylinder-block machining, cylinder-head machining and crankshaft lines. As part of the new cylinder-head machining area, Ford will install a series of “flexible” computer-numerically controlled (CNC) machines to manufacture the engine’s cylinder head. The company will also convert its existing flexible manufacturing equipment at Lima to build crankshafts for the new V6 engine.

The Lima engine plant, originally built in 1957 to manufacture V8 engines for the Edsel, now measures 2.4 million square feet and employs more than 1,600 people. The new investment was assisted by state and local tax incentives.