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LONDON - Ford today revealed more details of its new state-of-the-art Diesel Business Centre to be established on the Dagenham Estate in East London, including visual impressions of the first major new building to be constructed at Dagenham for more than 30 years.

At the center of Ford's plans to create a world-class, high technology, diesel engineering and manufacturing center at Dagenham is the new Clean Room Assembly Hall. The Clean Room will be one of the most modern manufacturing facilities in Europe.

The new building will significantly boost diesel engine production capacity at Dagenham from today's level of around 650,000 units per annum to up to 900,000 engines by 2004. Together with the increased output of petrol engines at Ford's Bridgend engine plant, plans for which were announced in February this year, the UK will be producing around two million Ford engines per year by 2004 - that means that one-in-four of the vehicles that Ford sells around the world each year will be powered by an engine built in the UK.

Explaining the growing importance of diesel engines for Ford, Kevin O'Neill, director, Ford Diesel Business Unit, said: "In the UK we anticipate diesel sales will more than double, from 14 percent of the market today to around 30 percent of market by 2005. In Europe, diesel new car sales are already 35 percent of the market and are set to grow further. The Dagenham Diesel Business Centre, comprising the new building and the existing Dagenham Engine Plant facility, will be at the heart of Ford's plans for further growth in the diesel market, and will help us to achieve our goal of a minimum 30 percent diesel mix in our overall European engine production."

The Clean Room will incorporate state-of-the-art engineering and manufacturing facilities. The new building will accommodate up to 400 engineers and support staff, co-located with the manufacturing operations.

At the heart of the new building - and taking up the most of the 44,530 square meter floor space - will be the engine assembly area itself. This is the actual Clean Room, featuring a state-of-the-art air induction and extraction system to minimise airborne dust particles that could interfere with the build of the sophisticated, high technology, diesel engines that will be assembled in the facility. The full layout for the Clean Room - and the number of production employees who will work in the facility - will be determined in due course.

Mike Harvey, manager of the existing Dagenham Engine Plant, said: "By co-locating our diesel engineering and manufacturing teams, plus the other support staffs, in a single facility we improve our communications. This means that issues can be resolved quickly and new ideas implemented faster than ever before. The result is we will manufacture higher quality diesel engines for our customers."

In total, Ford will have invested $1 billion in its Dagenham diesel operations between 1995 and the end of 2004. From 1995 and 2000, $500 million was invested in diesel operations at Dagenham, and last year another $500 million was committed to investment in diesel engineering and manufacture over a five-year period.

The expansion of diesel engineering and manufacturing at Dagenham will in total create 500 new jobs. Approximately 300 volume-related jobs have already been established in the existing Dagenham Engine Plant facility, and around 230 will be established as a result of the new Clean Room. Dagenham will continue to employ over 5,000 people after the build of the Ford Fiesta ceases in the first quarter of 2002, and it will remain London's largest industrial center.

Just how this center will affect Volvo remains to be seen. Even if diesel Volvo engines like the all-new D5 are not produced in Dagenham, the technology that Ford will develope will most certainly benefit Volvo's own diesel technology evolution.
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