Ford Motor Company this week announced the completion of a two-year, US$500-million (R3.4-billion) upgrade of its manufacturing and assembly plants in South Africa to enable it to produce and export its new Ranger diesel pickup trucks to 148 countries, mostly in Africa and Asia.
“I am pleased to announce today that this All-New Ford Ranger will be exported from South Africa to 148 markets around the world, solidifying South Africa’s role as a key operation in Ford’s global manufacturing footprint,” Ford executive vice-president and chief financial officer Lewis Booth said in a statement on Monday.
According to Automotive Business Review, Ford’s Struandale, Port Elizabeth engine plant has been extensively upgraded and is now capable of producing 75 000 engines and 220 000 engine component kits a year.
“The new Duratorq TDCi engines will be equipped in the Ranger pick-ups, built at [Ford’s Silverton, Tshwane] vehicle assembly plant, which has also been expanded and is now capable of producing 110 000 vehicles a year,” Automotive Business Review reported on Tuesday.
The Michigan, US-based vehicle manufacturer has about 10 percent of market share in South Africa, trailing Toyota, Volkswagen and General Motors.
However, its South Africa investment was not just aimed at growing local market share, according to Jeff Nemeth, president of Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa. Nemeth told The Detroit News that Ford was transforming its South African operations “from a domestic to global manufacturing site”.
The Struandale plant is now the only Ford facility that both manufactures the four- and five-cylinder Duratorq engines and machines the components, The Detroit News reported.
Booth, in his statement, said the new diesel engine would “help drive our transformation in South Africa, and it is a key reason the all-new Ford Ranger pickup truck is a class leader.”
Previously, Ford Southern Africa was producing the Ranger, the Focus and a smaller pick-up (or bakkie, as South Africans call them), the Bantam, for the South African market.
Focusing on building a single vehicle meant the local manufacturer could achieve the necessary scale and efficiency for Ford’s global operations, Nemeth told The Detroit News.