Diesel-powered cars will account for nearly one third of Ford's British sales within four years, double the current level.
Kevin O'Neill, Ford's European diesel business unit director, said: “We have been slow on the diesel car front but by 2005 in the UK we will climb from 14% of our sales to 30%.”
He predicted diesels would account for half of Mondeo sales within four years. By 2005 Dagenham will build more than 1m diesel engines annually. Via the joint venture with the PSA Peugeot-Citroen, Ford will have four diesel engine families. The PSA deal accelerates Ford's diesel recovery with the new Fiesta, due on sale in March, using a French-built 1.4-litre, 70bhp TDCi engine, also destined for Citroen's C3 supermini.
Mr O'Neill said sustained growth might be halted by the Euro 5 exhaust emission regulations due in 2008. Exhaust after-treatment, cutting particulates to virtually zero, could add 20% to the cost of producing diesel engines. l Jaguar customers' long wait for high-performance diesel engines will end during 2003 with Dagenham-built 2.7-litre V6 and 3.6-litre V8 engines. They will be used in the Jaguar S- and X–types (and new XJ series), and Land Rover and Volvo ranges.
The V8 to be developed by Ford will not be shared with PSA. The X- and S-types suffer, particularly in Europe, from having no diesel engines to challenge equivalent Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz models.