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Bridgend rolls out last of the original Zetecs

Ford’s Bridgend plant has produced its 3,500,000th - and final - Zetec petrol engine after a production run of 13 years.

The plant already produces the Zetec's successor, known as Zetec-SE, with demand at 500,000 units a year. This year the number of Zetec engines produced was 86,000, principally for current Focus applications.

Ford Bridgend plant manager Bob Murphy says: "Zetec has been a very important engine for both this plant and Ford. It set new standards and they have been inherited by its successor.

"The run-out of Zetec will give us space and capacity to produce a new generation of engines which will build on our pre-eminent position as a major supplier of petrol engines for the company."

Following a £500m investment and two years construction of a 154,220 sq m dedicated production area, Zetec manufacturing started at Bridgend in 1991. Initially a 1.8-litre unit was produced, with 2.0 and 1.6 added for Fiesta, Escort and Mondeo.

In the first year, fewer than 10,000 Zetec engines were built but by 1993 production had passed 500,000 units. The multivalve engine replaced the CVH range (Compound Valve-angle Hemispherical combustion chamber), which was the first Bridgend product after the Bridgend plant opened in 1980.

Zetec production was then the most computer controlled and automated machining and assembly operation of its type in Europe. For the first time units were built by multi-skilled teams of mechanical and electrical craftsmen, as well as production operators working together on the line.

Swansea Plant supplied Bridgend with crankshafts, con-rods and camshafts from similar multi-skilled teams, with supplies continuing after Visteon took over four years ago. The new Zetec-SE arrived at Bridgend in 1998 after a further £340m investment and is fitted to Fiesta, Fusion and Focus - both current and the new model on sale next month.

The Bridgend Zetec production area - now 31,000 sq m - will be stripped out and prepared for future new business projects and the employees transferred to other areas of the plant. Eight years ago the plant began producing V8 engines for Jaguar. A second flexible premium engine line was opened in May this year - putting Bridgend's capacity on course to top one million engines a year by 2010.

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