Ford is installing new plant and equipment as part of a £340m investment at its Bridgend plant. The investment is in preparation for production next May of the new Zetec SE engine, codenamed Sigma.
About 550,000 engines will be produced a year, said plant manager Colin Johnson. Up to 400 more jobs could be created at the plant by 2000, depending on market conditions. The present staff level is 1,356.
Sigma will be fitted to the Fiesta range and next generation Escorts intended for assembly at Valencia, Spain, and Saarlouis, Germany.
Bridgend will manufacture and assemble five key engine components, including cylinder blocks, heads and camshafts. The new capacity complements Sigma production at Valencia.
The Welsh plant also makes the V8 engine for the Coventry-built Jaguar XK8. Engine production began last year and should be up to full annual output of 50,000 units by September. Investment of about £100m has been made in an automated production line for the V8.