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Ford Boosts Small-engine Production In US

Ford offered the 2-Liter EcoBoost engine in 2011 on its Edge and Explorer SUVs in the U.S. Last year it added the new Escape small SUV, the Taurus large sedan, the Fusion midsize sedan and a high-performance version of the Focus compact to the list. This year the Lincoln MKZ midsize luxury car also has it.

Two years ago Ford sold 6,900 vehicles equipped with 2-Liter EcoBoost engines in the U.S., and that rose to 96,000 last year. In January Ford sold 15,000 vehicles with the engines, putting it on pace to sell more than 180,000 this year.

Ford expects to sell more than 500,000 cars and trucks with turbocharged four-cylinder and V-6 engines in the U.S. this year, up from about 334,000 in 2012. The company said turbocharged engines should be available on 90 percent of its North American models this year, and 95 percent by 2015.

The four-cylinder is in just about every Ford vehicle but full-size pickups, and even they could have it in the future, said Scott Makowski, global design manager for Ford's four-cylinder engines.

Technically it's possible to power a pickup with a smaller motor by adding boost to the turbocharger, Makowski said. Turbochargers pump high concentrations of air into the piston chamber. That allows more gas to be sent in and offers extra acceleration or hauling capacity whenever drivers step on the pedal. Turbos aren't used under normal driving conditions, so the engines get better mileage because they behave like normal four-cylinder motors.

"You can always go up on horsepower per liter," Makowski said. "We're always being asked for more performance, and we're always being asked for more fuel economy."

The prospects are good for more hiring at the Cleveland Engine Plant, United Auto Workers Vice President Jimmy Settles, who handles talks with Ford. A second engine plant and a metal casting factory were closed in the Cleveland area as Ford downsized in the early 2000s. The company also plans to shutter a nearby metal stamping plant in 2015, but the roughly 330 workers there likely will transfer to the engine factory. The rest of the engine plant hires will be at a lower entry-level wage of around $15.78 per hour, about half the wage of longtime UAW workers.

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