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(Reuters) - Ford Motor Co (F.N) will spend $500 million and create 300 jobs to upgrade an Ohio engine plant to make the new 2.7-liter six-cylinder EcoBoost engine for its best-selling F-150 pickup trucks, the company said on Friday.
The 2015 F-150 pickup truck will be the first model to use the new engine that will be built at Ford's Lima, Ohio engine plant.
Ford's F-150 pickup truck is the best-selling vehicle in North America.
Ford's EcoBoost engines are turbocharged and use gasoline direct-injection to provide the power of larger engines.
Ford will have four engine options for its next-generation F-150 pickup trucks, as it does now, but with the introduction of the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6, it will no longer offer the 6.2-liter V8.
Ford said that its smaller engines are more efficient and provide the power of larger ones while achieving better fuel economy.
For the first time, Ford will have automatic start-stop as a standard feature on F-150 models with the 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine. Start-stop technology shuts the engine when the vehicle is stopped for short periods such as at traffic signals, in order to save fuel.
The four types of engines Ford will use in the 2015 F-150 pickup trucks are a 3.5-liter V6, the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6, a 5-liter V8 and a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6.
Ford's 6.2-liter V8 engine has accounted for only 5 percent of F-150 sales of the 2014 model, while the 5-liter V8 has accounted for 38 percent.
The best-selling engine at 38 percent in the current model F-150 is the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, said Kristina Adamski, spokeswoman at Ford.
Six-cylinder engines have made up 57 percent of F-150 sales for the current model year, she said.
The Lima Engine Plant now has about 700 workers who make current versions of Ford's 3.5-liter and 3.7-liter V6 engines for a range of models including the Edge crossover vehicle and the Explorer SUV.
The new jobs at Lima will be added over the next several years. The plant currently has about 900 hourly and salaried workers. United Auto Worker union members from other Ford plants will be given the chance to transfer to Lima and then any new hires will receive the entry-level starting wage of $15.78 per hour, which is about 60 percent of what veteran Ford assembly plant workers make.
Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Ken Wills