Ford Motor Co. (NYSE:F) announced Wednesday a major step in its industrial expansion into Asia with the opening of its $500 million engine plant in the south-central city of Chongqing, part of the automaker’s joint venture with state-owned Chang'an Automobile (Group) Co., Ltd.

The Changan Ford Engine Plant can build 400,000 engines a year, which, added to the current 350,000 engines Ford build annually in China, would more than double the production.

The new capacity will enable Ford to unleash a slew of models in China, which is at the center of the company’s Asia-Pacific expansion plans.

Ford Motor Co

The Ford logo is seen on a vehicle at a car plant in Craiova, 230km (143 miles) west of Bucharest, October 29, 2012.

Photo: REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel/Files

“The 1.5- and 1.0-liter engines produced will help power Ford’s continued growth here in the world’s largest automotive market,” said Alan Mulally, president and chief executive officer of Ford, in announcing the news.

The new 41-acre plant will divvy up production between two Ford engines: the 1.5-liter, naturally aspirated four-cylinder and the company’s highly touted 1.0-liter three-cylinder EcoBoost engine. The engines will be used in popular Ford models such as the EcoSport mini SUV and the Fiesta mini compact.

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Ford says it will release 15 models into the Chinese market by the end of 2015. The company plans to build three more plants in China and two more plants in Asia outside of China by the end of the decade.