By Deepa Seetharaman
DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co plans to invest nearly $200 million in its Cleveland engine plant to build a 2-liter version of its popular turbocharged engine for the company's North American lineup.
Production of the 2-liter "EcoBoost" engine is expected to start in late 2014. The move will add 450 jobs at the Cleveland factory, which now makes Ford's 3.5-liter turbocharged engine as well as a 3.7-liter V6 engine, the company said on Thursday.
The second-largest U.S. automaker has heightened its focus on fuel efficiency over the last seven years and the EcoBoost represents a crucial piece of its vehicle strategy.
Ford's factory in Valencia, Spain currently builds the 2-liter turbocharged engine for North America and Europe. Rising demand for fuel-efficient models in North America prompted Ford to shift production of the engine to Ohio from Spain, it said.
That Valencia factory will continue to make the EcoBoost engine for Ford vehicles built in Europe, and Ford said overall employment at the plant would not be hurt by the move.
Ford introduced its turbocharged EcoBoost in 2009 and aims to boost production of the engine to 1.6 million this year, about 100,000 higher than the company's previous goal.
Turbocharged engines have grown increasingly important as automakers face stringent fuel-economy standards over the next several years. Ford, one of the most vocal advocates for this technology, says its EcoBoost-equipped models have saved as much as 20 percent in fuel compared with their larger predecessors.
But earlier this month, Consumer Reports magazine found that the benefits of turbocharged engines were overstated. In some cases, turbocharged models are slower and less fuel-efficient, the magazine said.
(Reporting by Deepa Seetharaman; Editing by Dale Hudson)