Ford Motor Co. is likely to offer a V-6 turbodiesel for the high-volume F-150 pickup and perhaps the Explorer SUV as well, but the launch date remains uncertain and it is unclear what company will produce the engine, sources say.

Ward's reported in May that International Truck and Engine Corp. will produce in 2005 a turbodiesel V-6 derived from the Power Stroke V-8 diesel it currently builds for Ford's heavy-duty pickups.

Industry sources now say it is unlikely Ford will source its light-duty V-6 turbodiesel from International because of warranty problems associated with the Power Stroke V-8.

They also say Cummins Inc., a primary diesel competitor with International, is a leading candidate for the contract, and that Ford likely will choose an assembler within a month.

The partnership between International and Ford dates back more than a decade, as International has built 2 million Power Stroke V-8s for Ford — most of them the original 7.3L version. International has a contract to build the Power Stroke V-8 for Ford until 2012.

But since launching the new 6L version in November 2002, Ford has tallied at least $50 million in warranty claims associated with the new engine, sources say.

Plus, International is angry with Ford for having previously scuttled a plan for the engine supplier to build a V-6 variant of the Power Stroke at International's new plant in Hunstville, AL. International says it built the plant specifically for the V-6 program.

The two companies resolved the issue in mid-2003, with Ford paying International $70 million as compensation for scrapping the V-6 program, according to sources.

Ford and International officials decline to confirm the amount of the payment.

Sources say Ford still wants a V-6 light-duty diesel — but not one built by International.

Officially, Ford and International describe their relationship as strong.

A Cummins spokeswoman confirms the company has developed 6- and 8-cyl. light-duty diesels, partially with U.S. Dept. of Energy funding.