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LIMA, Ohio — A new engine Ford Motor Co. will offer in its next-generation F-150 pickup is expected to be built at the company’s Lima Engine Plant, creating several hundred jobs.
The 2.7-liter turbocharged V-6 will come standard with fuel-saving start-stop technology — the first time that has been offered in a truck. Ford says the engine has the same performance as a midrange V-8 without nearly the same thirst for fuel.
Ford officials told The Blade on Thursday that the company has not confirmed where it will build the 2.7-liter engine, despite the fact that a top Ford engineer confirmed to an area newspaper in January that the Lima Engine Plant was getting the new product.
“It is an open secret that the new engine is going into the F-150,” said Dave Berger, Lima’s mayor and chairman of the Lima Auto Task Force.
Ford has had an engine plant in Lima since 1957, and builds two V-6 engines there. But building an engine for the F-150 is significant because the F-series trucks have been the best-selling vehicle in the United States for 32 consecutive years.
In 2011, the company agreed to invest $400 million in the Lima plant, saying in its contract with the United Auto Workers that it planned to add a “new industry-leading small V-6” engine line.
A Ford spokesman did not return a call from The Blade seeking comment on the status of that investment. However, Mr. Berger said the project has been under way for about a year and a half, with Ford renovating 800,000 square feet in the plant and installing new tooling.
The plant employs 716 people, according to Ford.
The company has not said how many jobs will be created, but local officials said Ford has started hiring.
“We know they’ve been adding jobs because they’ve been telling us they’ve been adding jobs. But that job figure hasn’t been released yet,” said Jeff Sprague, president and CEO of the Allen Economic Development Group.
Some new employees could transfer in from other plants, Mr. Berger said, but he and Mr. Sprague expect Ford to add several hundred positions.
“It’s great news. It really is. It represents another long-term investment in a very successful company here in our community. We’re anxious for the production lines to start rolling,” Mr. Berger said.
Ford is making a major push toward fuel efficiency with the 2015 F-150. The company used aluminum instead of steel for the truck’s body, reducing weight by 700 pounds.
Mileage estimates haven’t been released, but the optional 2.7-liter EcoBoost should also give the truck better fuel economy.
Start-stop technology automatically shuts off the engine when the truck isn’t moving and restarts it when the driver releases the brake.
Bill Visnic, a senior analyst with Edmunds.com, said automakers need to make these kinds of moves.
“The mandate is out there. By 2016, every manufacturer’s fleet economy has to be at 35 mpg. For the Detroit Three in particular, it’s a really important thing to start getting improved fuel economy in the pickup segment because pickups are such an outsized portion of everything they sell,” he said.
Ford says the 2.7-liter was designed specifically for start-stop technology.
“When you’re not moving, there’s no reason for the engine to be running,” said Paul Seredynski, a Ford spokesman.
While start-stop systems are growing in application, pickup buyers are among the most steadfast traditionalists in the market.
Even so, Ford isn’t concerned that buyers will be turned off by it.
“When people get in it and they drive it, the remarkable thing is how much they don’t notice it,” Mr. Seredynski said.
Start-stop is automatically disabled when the truck is in four-wheel drive, or when in towing mode. The driver can manually disable it.
Ford says the 2.7-liter EcoBoost is expected to slot in between the new base 3.5-liter V-6 and the 5-liter V-8, with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost topping the lineup.
About 35 percent of F-150s sold over the last three years were equipped with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine.