US carmaker Ford Motor Co's US$312.5-million engine plant with its Japanese unit, Mazda Motor Co, and Chinese partner Chang'an Motor Corp kicked off production yesterday in this capital city of east China's Jiangsu Province.
With an annual production capacity of 350,000 units, the three-way venture, Chang'an Ford Mazda Engine Co, is one of the biggest engine facilities in China, Ford said in a statement.
The factory is currently making Mazda's 1.3-liter and 1.5-liter BZ series engines. It will also build Ford's 2-liter and 2.3-liter new I4 series engines later.
"CFME (the engine plant) represents a critical progression in Ford's long-term vision and growth strategy for the China market, and keep us on track to becoming one of the key players in the world's second-biggest auto market," said Cheng Meiwei, chairman of Ford Motor China.
As a latecomer in China in terms of local vehicle production, Ford now runs a car plant in Chongqing with Mazda and Chang'an. The three parties are also building a new car factory in Nanjing.
Ford and Chang'an also have a wagon plant in Jiangsu Province.
The US company said earlier this month that these factories will have a combined manufacturing capacity of 546,000 vehicles annually by the end of this year.
In the first quarter, Ford and its affiliate brands Volvo, Land Rover, Jaguar and Lincoln moved 42,746 vehicles in China, up 16.4 percent from a year ago.
Other global carmakers are also making more of their engines in China to meet their growing vehicle sales and take advantage of the low costs in the country.
Japan's Toyota Motor Corp and Chinese partner First Automotive Works Corp (FAW) opened a 216,000-unit factory last week in North China to make the 1.6-liter and 1.8-liter ZR engines.
German carmaker Volkswagen AG last month began producing its latest 1.8-liter turbo FSI engine at a venture with FAW in Northeast China. The venture will be capable of manufacturing 300,000 engines a year by 2011.
(China Daily April 27, 2007)